Health care worker giving a young pregnant woman a birthing kit, in BangladeshSee more

A health care worker in Bangladesh gives a young pregnant woman a birthing kit for a safer delivery. It contains a sterile razor to cut the cord, a sterile plastic sheet to place under the birth area, and other simple, sanitary items - all which help save lives. The health care worker asks the young woman to come back with her baby for a post natal check after the birth. At that time, she asks the mom if she wants to have another child right away or if she wants to space her children. Usually the mom wants to wait, and gladly accepts contraception. The worker is prepared to give her pills, an injection, implants, or an IUD. The mother is instructed to come back if the baby shows signs of diarrhea or pneumonia, common infant killers.

50 years ago, here in the USA, I was given the same option to space my births after the birth of my first baby. I gladly accepted contraceptive pills (which was new to me) .. Karen Gaia


Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

If we don't halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity - and will leave a ravaged world. Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendall

Population & Sustainability News Digest

March 01, 2015

Feminist Writers Are So Besieged by Online Abuse That Some Have Begun to Retire

February 26, 2015, RSN - Reader Supported News   By: Michelle Goldberg

While digital media has amplified feminist voices, it has also extracted a steep psychic price. Women are being ferociously punished when they tell their stories. Some have been driven from their homes or forced to cancel public appearances. "Being insulted and threatened online is part of my job," Lindy West, formerly of Jezebel, recently said on "This American Life."

Jessica Valenti, columnist for the Guardian, thinks about quitting "all the time." She recalls being referred to as a c--- day in, day out for 10 years. She questions what effect that has on one's psyche.

In 2013, the pro-choice activist Jaclyn Munson wrote about going undercover at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. Soon a stalker was sending her death threats. She gave up writing online and now plans to go to law school, which she hopes will let her work on the issues she cares about in a safer, less exposed way.

She says what's different now is the existence of organized misogyny, with groups of men who are gathering under banners such as the Men's Rights Movement and Gamergate. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt points out that there is a cadre of incredibly enraged men who have all found each other, thanks to the internet.

Once a woman is singled out by a men's rights group such as A Voice for Men, the misogynist Reddit forum The Red Pill or even just a right-wing Twitter account like Twitchy, she is deluged with hatred.

Filipovic, the former editor of the blog Feministe, says that, although her skin has thickened over the years, the daily need to brace against the online onslaught has changed her. "You read enough times that you're a terrible person and an idiot, and it's very hard not to start believing that maybe they see something that you don't." She also finds it harder to let her guard down.

Many feminist writers have decided to end their online presence. Writer Lauren Bruce, Emily McCombs, executive editor of women's site xoJane, are among them. doclink

Richard says: The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which received numerous death threats since the depiction of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, is proof positive that internet bullying works.

Population Decline and the Great Economic Reversal

February 17, 2015, Stratfor Global Intelligence   By: George Friedman

In George Friedman's book The Next 100 Years, he says that there is no question but that the populations of most European countries will decline in the next generation, and in the cases of Germany and Russia, the decline will be dramatic.

The population explosion is ending. In virtually all societies the birthrate among women has been declining. The world is urbanizing and, as it does, the economic value of children declines and people have fewer children For most people, a family of eight children would be a financial catastrophe. Therefore, women have two children or fewer, on average.

The contraction of the population, particularly during the transitional period before the older generations die off, will leave a relatively small number of workers supporting a very large group of retirees, particularly as life expectancy in advanced industrial countries increases. In addition, the debts incurred by the older generation would be left to the smaller, younger generation to pay off.

Given this, the expectation is major economic dislocation.

The most obvious solution to this problem is immigration. The problem is that there are cultural problems with integrating immigrants. In addition some of the historical sources of immigration to the United States, particularly Mexico, are exporting fewer immigrants. As Mexico moves up the economic scale, emigration to the United States will decline.

But does a declining population really matter?

If the downward curve in gross domestic product matched the downward curve in population, per capita GDP would be unchanged. But there is no reason to think that GDP would fall along with population. The capital base of society, its productive plant as broadly understood, will not dissolve as population declines.

One of the key variables mitigating the problem of decreasing population would be continuing advances in technology to increase productivity. Growths in individual working productivity have been occurring in all productive environments from the beginning of industrialization, and the rate of growth has been intensifying.

Throughout the history of modern industrialism and capitalism, there has always been a surplus of labor. Now, for the first time in 500 years, this situation is reversing itself. Since fewer humans are being born, the labor force will contract and the price of all sorts of labor will increase. In the past, the scarce essential element has been capital. But now capital, understood in its precise meaning as the means of production, will be in surplus, while labor will be at a premium.

This would raise per capita GDP and the actual distribution of wealth would shift.

In the recent period of time the accumulation of wealth has shifted dramatically into fewer hands, and the gap between the upper-middle class and the middle class has also widened. If the cost of money declined and the price of labor increased, the wide disparities would shift, and the historical logic of industrial capitalism would be, if not turned on its head, certainly reformulated.

The decline in the value of housing will put the net worth of the middle and upper classes at risk, while adjusting to a world where interest rates are perpetually lower than they were in the first era of capitalism would run counter to expectations and therefore lead financial markets down dark alleys. Since the decline in population is transparent and highly predictable, there is time for homeowners, investors and everyone else to adjust their expectations.

Population decline will significantly transform the functioning of economies, but will not represent a catastrophe. In the past 500 years bankers and financiers have held the upper hand; now in a labor-scarce society, having pools of labor to broker will be the key. doclink

California Must Choose Oil Or Water

February 26, 2015, Desert Sun   By: Jono Hildner, Sierra Club

While presenting short-term economic gain, fracking it has no place in a state that is struggling to provide sufficient water to support people and wildlife.

Fracking uses massive amounts of water. On average, every Coachella Valley resident uses almost 135,000 gallons of water each year -- about the same amount of water it takes to frack one well.

If folks in Bakersfield or Los Angeles find themselves unable to use groundwater polluted by fracking byproducts, they are going to clamor for more of our state's shared water supply -- leaving even less to go around for all of us.

More than 5 million Californians live within one mile of a gas or oil well.

The state of California should, at a minimum, place a moratorium on well-stimulation activity until and unless we can fully understand and control the detrimental impacts of fracking on our precious water supply. We can't live without water, but we can live without this additional oil and gas.

Jono Hildner is the Political Chair of the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club and a member of the Executive Committee of Sierra Club California doclink

Richard says: This reminds me of an online comment: "If you were dying of thirst in the desert, and a person came up to you with a glass of oil, and a glass of water, which would you choose?"

Teenagers Push Their School to Really Support Safe Sex

February 17, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Members of Hanover High School's student government are preparing to present recent research they conducted on teens' access to condoms -- including a survey that found more than 80% of the parents support providing free condoms in school -- at an upcoming meeting of district officials.

States are slowly moving away from the abstinence-only health classes that defined the 1990s. Large public school districts in cities like Boston and New York have made free condoms available to students. Some schools in Philadelphia have even tried out condom vending machines in case students are too embarrassed to ask their nurse for the contraceptives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed the policy in 2013. The U.S. still has the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections -- mostly among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 -- of any other country in the developed world. doclink

Malawi Bans Child Marriage, Lifts Minimum Age to 18

February 17, 2015,   By: Reuters

Malawi is a southern African country where half of girls end up as child brides and nearly one in eight is married by 15.

Women rights campaigners hailed the ban as "a great day for Malawian girls" and said the law would help boost development in one of the world's poorest countries.

Child marriage is deeply entrenched in Malawi's society partly because of a belief that a girl should marry as early as possible to maximize her fertility.

Women rights advocates warned Malawi would not end child marriage without concerted efforts to tackle poverty and end harmful traditional practices like early sexual initiations. doclink

A Brief History of Contraception

February 18 , 2015, Atlantic Monthly   By: Jackie Lay

The use of contraceptives dates all the way back to 1850 B.C., when women in ancient Egypt used honey, acacia leaves, and lint to block sperm. This two-minute animation traces the history of contraception through the centuries, from sea sponges (500 B.C.), linen sheath condoms (1564), lemon cervical caps (1700), and the "rhythm method" (1920) to modern advancements such as vaginal rings, hormone injections, IUDs, and patches. doclink

Social Justice Requires Family Planning

February 13, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund   By: Elspeth Dehnert

Evidence from around the world shows that investments in reproductive health are critical to reducing poverty and increasing educational levels.

While most women in the United States have access to contraception, some 225 million women in the developing do not, even though they wish that they did.

Having the ability to prevent pregnancy, survive childbirth, and enjoy equal opportunities is a basic human right. And it is up to all of us to call on our prospective governments to make a real investment in international family planning - otherwise, the world may never achieve true social justice.

Only $25 per year buys a woman living in the developing world lifesaving family planning services, and a new outlook on life.

Making voluntary family planning available to everyone in the developing world would reduce costs for newborn and maternal health care by more than 11 billion dollars.

Poverty elimination, gender equality, and educational and health equity cannot be fully realized until everyone around the world has the ability to plan their pregnancies. doclink

It's Only February and There Are Already 100 New Anti-Abortion Bills

February 13, 2015, Jezebel   By: Natasha Vargas-Cooper

The number of new anti-abortion measures for 2015 has already reached 100. Many of these measures are based on pre-written drafts put together by well funded, national anti-abortion groups, like Americans United for Life and the Nation Right to Life Committee. "Having hundreds of pre-written bills on hand," Tara Culp-Ressler points out, "allows conservative lawmakers to submit a rash of legislation at the beginning of the session and see what manages to advance."

States include: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Virginia, South Dakota, Washington, Missouri.


1. Banning women from buying optional abortion coverage through federally backed insurance plans.

2. Requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion.

3. Forbidding women from receiving an abortion because her fetus has Down Syndrome.

4. Notify parents if a minor receives an abortion.

5. Make women watch an 'educational' video before receiving an abortion.

Even if these laws do not pass, and many certainly will, women and pro-choice lawmakers will have to work twice as hard just to keep their status quo. doclink

We're Closer Than Ever to a Birth Control Pill for Men

February 13 , 2015, WIRED   By: Becky Ferreira

The fact that men produce 1,500 sperm every second seems impressive. But that comes at a cost: babies.

A couple of seminal approaches to getting the little swimmers to simmer down may soon start to trickle out of the laboratory. Here are two of the headiest prospects for choking off male fertility.

1. Normally, premature sperm cells grow a tail and head in the testis, but H2-gamendazole keeps them from reaching this stage of development. The unfinished sperm fragments are then reabsorbed into the testis, never ending up in the semen.

2. Jay Bradner and his team at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were working on JQ1 which blocked bromodomain proteins (which are like Post-it notes that remind them cells of their identity) in cancer cells, causing them to forget how to be cancer. But JQ1 was also found to obstruct a testicle-specific bromodomain called BRDT, making the sex cells that would otherwise produce sperm draw a blank about their own behavior. Now mice treated with JQ1 can hump with abandon yet generate zero mouselings. doclink

Heartfile Population Growth Documentary Inspires Action

February 18, 2015, The News   By: Our Correspondent

A 45 minute documentary titled 'The Population Emergency,' details the threats implicit in Pakstan's burgeoning population, which carried the country from 34 million in 1950 to 190 million people today. Demographers estimate the Pakistani population to reach 300 million by 2050.

3 million people or a whole new city is added to the population every year. From 34 million in 1950 to 190 million today, Pakistan's population is expected to rise to 300 million by 2050. The documentary labels this trend as unsustainable.

The documentary focuses on the components of the service delivery chain which includes: human resource, information systems, supply chain, governance, and financing.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile, stated, "Today, Pakistan's exploding population is the real crisis that threatens the prosperity of our generations. In the face of resource scarcity, constrained economic opportunities and joblessness, population growth is simply pushing youth further into the hands of terrorists, gangs and mafias. It is fuelling a fire that is raving our country. The country is literally bursting at the seams. We must stabilize our population. This is not just an imperative for women's health, wellbeing and poverty reduction; it is also necessary for national progress and development, and for the security of our nation."

Dr. Nishtar also states that curbing population growth is "imperative for women's health."

Rapid population growth not only leads to resource scarcity and constrained economic opportunities, but serves as a huge recruiting pool for radical groups from which to choose, seeking schools of disenfranchised youth. doclink

Tell Congress It's Time to Get Serious About Population

February 13, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Real investment in family planning will improve maternal and child survival, ease pressure on the environment, and increase social stability in the developing world.

Every year, more than half a million women die of pregnancy related causes worldwide and millions more suffer serious injuries. Nearly all of these deaths and injuries are preventable. In fact, nearly half of all maternal deaths and a significant proportion of infant deaths could be averted by universal access to contraceptives

Continuing population growth in the developing world is a major contributor to environmental degradation. These environmental stresses mean that many areas of the world lack the food and water resources necessary to sustain their growing populations. The end results are resource depletion, environmental degradation and malnutrition.

Resource scarcity and other population pressures stress fragile governments and social structures. Countries without the means to feed, house, educate and employ their citizens are at risk of civil insecurity.

These and other global problems cannot be solved unless we as a nation commit to doing our part to meet the unmet need for family planning around the globe. Real investment in family planning is not merely a moral imperative, but also a sound investment in the future of our world. doclink

No Jobs on a Dead Planet: Trade Unions Join the Transition to a Greener Economy/ by Gaelle Gourmelon

February 10, 2015, Worldwatch Institute

Labor markets will shift to fit the demands of a greener economy as resources shrink and the climate changes. But with 38% of workers worldwide employed in carbon-intensive sectors like fossil fuel extraction and industrial manufacturing, this transition will be challenging.

Some jobs will be shifted or redefined to fit the new economy, such as moving from fossil fuels to renewables. Other jobs, however—such as those in the coal sector—will be lost or displaced to countries with laxer constraints on greenhouse gas emissions.

To address the transition challenge, some trade unions have proposed a "just transition," a concept coined in the 1990s that strengthens the view that environmental and social policies can reinforce each other. Using this approach, unions promote the employment potential of a green economy through innovation and technology as well as through resource efficiency.

Lars Henriksson, a Swedish autoworker and political activist, suggests that unions aim not to preserve unsustainable industries in the name of employment, but to engage workers in developing sustainable conversion strategies.

In 2009, for example, union representatives united with environmentalists, researchers, and citizen's groups to develop a sustainable transport plan in Europe after facing railroad privatization. Unions can also help to secure equitable redistribution of work by requiring continuing education and training, adapting existing social protection systems, and regulating staffing and wage agreements. doclink

Volatile Cotton Sector Struggles to Balance Cost and Benefits

New Worldwatch Institute analysis explores trends and impacts of global cotton production
February 17 , 2015, Worldwatch Institute   By: Gaelle Gourmelon

Growing cotton provides livelihoods for an estimated 100 million households in as many as 85 countries. But adverse global market conditions and reliance on large doses of water, fertilizer, and pesticides impose considerable social and environmental costs, writes Michael Renner, senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute's latest Vital Signs Online article (

Although synthetic materials are making inroads, cotton remains by far the most important natural fiber for textiles. In 2013/14, an estimated 26.3 million tons of cotton were produced worldwide.

Cultivating cotton accounts for about 3% of all agricultural water use worldwide. Countries that import cotton or finished cotton products also bring in large amounts of embedded "virtual water" with these imports and have considerable water footprints. Producing a pair of jeans takes an estimated 10,850 liters of water, and a t-shirt takes 2,720 liters.

The legions of small cotton farmers around the world face a set of challenges largely beyond their control. In addition to unfair subsidies (totaling $47 billion between 2001 and 2010 for the United States, China, and Europe), they must deal with health risks from pesticide use and, in some cases, insurmountable levels of debt.

Cotton is a very pesticide-intensive crop (accounting for 16% of global insecticide use and 6.8% of herbicide use), with potential repercussions, such as pest resistance and adverse health impacts on farmers that range from acute poisoning to long-term effects. Pesticides and fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash) can also leach out of the plant's root zone and contaminate groundwater and surface water.

Sadly, severe indebtedness has caused an estimated 100,000 cotton farmers in India to commit suicide over a 10-year period. Indebtedness results from numerous factors, including the rising cost of pesticides and genetically modified seeds, low yields due to droughts, and the declining price that cotton fetches on world markets. doclink

Karen Gaia says: how sad! I was counting on cotton to soothe me in the time that I may have to give up so many other niceties in life.

The Party of Rape Culture: 40 Republican Rape Quotes We All Should Remember in November

July 06, 2013, Addicting Info   By: Stephen D. Foster Jr

Texas Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, in March, 1990, said, "Rape is kinda like the weather. It's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

Pennsylvanian Stephen Frieind said, "When the traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has the tendency to kill sperm."

Phyllis Schafly argues that once having gotten married, the female has essentially "consented to sex."

Talk show host Bill O'Reilly argues that women who dress scantily have it coming to them.

In all, forty very shocking revelations from a congress that the American people elected.

. . . more doclink

California's Population Growth Expected to Outstrip Water Conservation in Coming Years

February 14 , 2015, Sacramento Bee   By: Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese

Water districts forecast the total number of water customers in the state to increase about 20% from 2015 to 2030, according to the surveys. Many of the largest increases are expected in the state's hottest climates, areas where water demand is generally greater.

Large Southern California water districts in Coachella, Highland, Rialto, Indio, Palmdale and inland San Diego all predict water demand increases of greater than 50% between 2015 and 2030.

Several Central Valley water districts also predict significant growth. The cities of Tulare, Madera and Merced, along with the Sacramento County Water Agency and the El Dorado County Irrigation District, each anticipate water consumption to grow by at least 40% between 2015 and 2030. doclink

Guess How Much of Uncle Sam's Money Goes to Foreign Aid. Guess Again!

February 10 , 2015, National Public Radio   By: Poncie Rutsch

Less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. In a survey, the average respondent estimated that 26% went toward assisting other countries.

Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28% still thought the nation was overspending.

The U.S. is pretty generous ... until you consider how much money it has. "On the one hand, you can say that the U.S. is the most generous because it is one of the biggest donators to foreign aid," says Phyllis Pomerantz, a professor of public policy at Duke University. "But on the other hand, we have one of the lowest percentages of gross national income donated to foreign aid," she says. doclink

Previous World Worry was Overpopulation, Now a Global Concern is Underpopulation

February 14 , 2015, Deseret News

English demographer Thomas Robert Malthus, who died more than 150 years go, proposed that ever increasing numbers of humans would produce unsustainable overpopulation and massive scarcity of food and other natural resources.

In fact, evidence now suggests that underpopulation, not overpopulation, is a critical problem facing the nations of today's world.

The Wall Street Journal writes: "Declining population growth (in the developed world).......... will reduce by 40% the rate of growth for the world's 20 largest economies."

Other media outlets have taken notice, too. CNN cites Japan's acute baby shortage as a current example of underpopulation. Russia has gone so far as to offer women cash incentives to have more children.

As the world population ages, retirees rely on younger workers to support a system that is increasingly top-heavy, with more people taking out than putting in. Here in the United States, our entitlement programs for the elderly are mathematically unsustainable, largely due to these demographic realities.

At the same time, all doomsday predictions risk looking as ridiculous as Malthus' does in hindsight. Human ingenuity prevented Malthus' famines that never materialized. Rather than panic, it's time to recognize the problem and find practical ways to solve it. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Another author who fails to look carefully at resource depletion. Oil and gas are two of the important ones: the easy-to-reach high-quality sweet crude is gone, leaving the difficult-to-extract tar sands, oil in deep or stormy waters, or oil and gas that must be extracted by fracking. This expensive oil is dragging our economy down and raising the price of food.

While oil was still cheap, our baby boomers prospered, using fuel like there was no tomorrow. Many of them still enjoy comfortable houses and have yet the need for young people to support them.

Yes, Malthus' prediction failed in the long run, but he predicted famines in his lifetime, and there were famines long after he died, including the Irish potato famine and China's great famine in the 1970s. Then came the Green Revolution which its inventor said would last 30 years. So it has been 30 years and not much technology is in sight, and every year, the increase in the world's crop yields gets smaller while the world's population outpaces it.

Deforestation Causing São Paulo Drought

February 05, 2015, Geographical   By: Chris Fitch

The past twelve months has seen Brazil being hit harder and harder by the effects of drought, as first São Paulo, then other regions of the country, struggle to cope with not only dwindling supplies of water but an immense demand as well. Water rationing, power cuts, and crop slumps have ensued.

Authorities have come under fire for their failure to upgrade and maintain the necessary infrastructure to stop water being stolen or wasted in transit. There is also the exacerbation of Brazil's general water problems caused by population concentration around the coasts.

‘The Amazon rainforest takes water from the trees, rivers and soil and turns it into clouds known as ‘flying rivers', says Richard George, of Greenpeace UK. ‘These transport water vapour from the centre of Brazil to fall as rain on coastal areas. But as the forest has been destroyed, the flying rivers are disappearing.'

The scale of transformation which would accompany the disappearance of the Amazon's flying rivers is outlined in a recent report by Professor Antonio Nobre, researcher at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA).

The greatest impact from current trends in deforestation to Brazil and surrounding South America, Mr. Nobre says, is the drought: as moisture - no longer trapped by rainforest vegetation - rapidly evaporates, leading to what is described as the ‘savannisation' of the Amazon basin. Even though only 19% of the rainforest has been cut down, some of the consequences of total deforestation have already been reached; current computer models appear to underestimate the negative consequences of the situation.

Richard George of Greenpeace UK adds that Brazil's powerful agribusiness lobby will demand the right to clear even more forest to make up for the declining yields caused by prolonged drought, making an already dire situation worse.

Nobre's report concludes with a five-point plan to prevent further destruction to the Amazon; spreading rainforest education, ending deforestation, ending fire-clearing techniques, encouraging rainforest regeneration, and forcing world leaders to act to prevent potential crisis. doclink

A Physicist Solves the City

December 07 , 2010, New York Times   By: Jonah Lehrer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . more doclink

Get Angry and Get Loud: Improving Access to Health Care for the Latino Community

February 17 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Vanessa Gonzalez-Plumhoff

Ms. Gonzalez-Plumhoff is the recipient of the 2015 Latino Trendsetter Award for work done at Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the Latino community.

"I saw many of my classmates getting pregnant. I knew that I wasn't ready for a child, so in an effort to take control of my sexual health, I decided to go to our town's local clinic, which was not a Planned Parenthood health center, to get my first Pap test and to go on birth control. At the health center, they made me feel immediately judged and humiliated and, given how small my town was, word got around quickly, and I felt a growing sense of violation that something so personal was now a topic of high school gossip," she said

She experienced similar humiliation as a social worker, this time directed at an immigrant community in Arizona. She imagines the struggles they must have gone through, and vows to do her best to eliminate this insult to humanity.

Her humiliation has turned to anger and then to action, which revolves around ensuring that men and women from all walks of life are entitled to "nonjudgemental" sexual and reproductive health care.

She speaks for millions of other Latinas who wish to control their bodies and lauds the reduction of teen pregnancies as realized by the hard efforts of "so many Latinos in the Affordable Care Act."

"The fact that we would allow policies to be in place that restrict access to health care for certain communities over others is downright insulting. And it's about time that we all -- whether we are Latino or not -- got angry and got loud about it.," she said.

Ms Gonzalez-Plumhoff cites Planned Parenthood's Raíz program, a grassroots training program in the five states with the highest Latino populations, working to improve access to universal health care, and warns us that this is a lifelong fight. doclink

Hard-Working Nurses Go the Extra Mile to Bring Women Choice in Kenya

February 19 , 2015, Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes International nurse Grace Okeyo tours rural Kenya, advising people steeped in superstition that family planing is not the devil so many make it to be.

"The cultural belief in rural Kenya is that you should not have contraception until you have had your first child, which can mean being as young as 13 or 14. At this age, the risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is extremely high and once girls have had a baby they are unable to continue with their education," she said.

"We need to give girls the information that they need to understand about sexual activity and its risks, and make sure that they can get a family planning method if they want to avoid getting pregnant," she said.

One of the biggest challenges is the involvement of men, who play a huge part in decision-making in Kenya when it comes to contraception. "When you get a man and woman making a choice together on what is best for them - that is where you know that family planning will be a life-long choice." But "until there is more social and cultural change, we have to fit in around women and their requests for secrecy." That often means helping women to push the boundaries and be courageous. doclink

Republicans' Curious Ideas About Contraception

February 16 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Laura Stepp

Much of the Republican opposition to making contraception easily available and affordable relates to family planning clinics providing abortions. For example, Title X Family Planning provides contraception to low-income and uninsured women, but since the payments often go to Planned Parenthood, some Republicans want to kill the whole program.

Surveys of U.S. women show that half of all pregnancies (more than 3 million annually) are unplanned, and most abortions follow unplanned pregnancies. So making birth control less affordable and accessible results in more abortions, more children born into financially strapped families, and high welfare and health care costs, which lawmakers would like to avoid. Title X has suffered millions of dollars' worth of cuts since 2010. Consequently, the number of people served by Title X in 2013 was down by over 600,000 from the 5.2 million served in 2010.

Oklahoma, a state that makes it difficult to obtain contraception and family planning services, has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate. State Rep. Dr. Doug Cox has practiced medicine there. Last April he criticized his party's stance on reproductive rights in Rolling Stone magazine. He said: "Abortion is one thing, but when you start talking about limiting contraceptives, that's going too far. If you truly oppose abortions, you should do everything in your power to prevent unwanted pregnancy - from abstinence, to condoms, to birth control pills, all the way to the IUDs and morning-after pills...." He also opposed a proposed bill making it more difficult for teenagers under 17 to obtain the morning-after pill. A 14-year-old boy can go to the truck stop and buy all the condoms he wants. He can control his destiny. This bill takes the ability to control their destiny away from women.

99% of sexually active U.S. women, and 98% percent of Catholic women, have used birth control at some point in their lives. A Gallup poll found that 88% of Republican adults and 93% of Democrats say that using birth control is morally acceptable. The issue is not whether birth control should be available; it is how accessible the newest and most effective methods are, how much they should cost and, who should pay for them.

Many polls indicate that ordinary citizens appear more open to contraception than the lawmakers who claim to represent them. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 8 in 10 Americans - including some Tea Party Republicans - favored expanding access to birth control for women who cannot afford it. doclink

Displaced Children in South Sudan Continue to Learn

Mobile technology lets young readers continue with lessons
February 15 , 2015, USAID

Since the conflict began in South Sudan in December 2013, nearly 1,200 schools in the most conflict-affected states have closed. An additional 400,000 children and adolescents have dropped out due to the crisis, and some 90 schools are occupied by fighting forces or internally displaced persons.

The children of Matok have been able to continue learning with a simple and mobile USAID literacy program called All Children Reading.

Before the conflict began, the children were introduced to reading in their mother tongue, Dinka Cham, using digital audio players provided by ACROSS, a South Sudanese NGO that implements the literacy program.

When ACROSS staff member John Chol visited them in May 2014, the children welcomed him with songs they had learned from the lessons. ACROSS conducted a simple survey that indicated the children could read their mother-tongue alphabet, short words and simple sentences.

USAID launched the All Children Reading program in 2011 as part of a Grand Challenge for Development to improve literacy rates among children in developing countries. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Education is one of the contributors to a lower fertility rate.

The Steep Human Cost of the Christian Right's Hostility Toward Science

Opposition to basic contraception leaves families vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and costs taxpayers millions
February 20, 2015   By: Valerie Tarico, Alternet

In Colorado, a pilot program in Colorado which gave teens long acting contraceptives -- IUD's and implants; and which consequently resulted in a 40% drop teen births, along with a drop in abortions if threatened by some Colorado Republicans who are trying to kill it. The program saved the state $42.5 million a single year, over five times what it cost. These Republicans insist, wrongly, that IUD's work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred.

When women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing, research has discovered the many benefits: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse, lower crime rates. Women (and men) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.

Half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70% of pregnancies are unintended. For teens it is more than 80%. Most of the problem is that many forms of birth control are prone to human error. 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy, in any given year. For those using condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!

With todays IUD's and implants the pregnancy rate is below 1 in 500 -- about the same level of protection as a tubal sterilization. When they are removed a prompt return to normal fertility is achieved.

Advocates for children like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and advocates for healthy families like the California Family Health Council and CDC are eager to see these top tier birth control methods become the new normal.

People who care about flourishing families, including those who see themselves compassionate conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to help facilitate a transition to these new technologies. These tools should be available to young and poor women, who (along with their children) are most likely to be harmed by an unexpected pregnancy.

But opponents to modern contraception -- led by conservative Catholics -- are wrongly claiming that contraceptives are like "having an abortion mill in your body." They further insist that each embryo is precious and merits the protections of "personhood." Fetal-rights advocates have repeatedly tried to pass legislation in Colorado that gives legal standing to fertilized eggs and later embryonic stages of life.

Pregnancy can be stopped at four points: 1. preventing the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), 2. blocking fertilization (conception), 3. preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or 4. aborting an implanted pregnancy. Modern IUD's are designed to prevent fertilization:

A copper IUD is nonhormonal, and releases copper ions that interfere with sperm motility. The presence of copper may also change the surface of the egg so that it is less easily penetrated by a sperm. In addition, inflammatory cells evoked in the uterine cavity in response to the IUD kill sperm before they can ascend to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs.

A hormonal IUD releases a mostly local dose of Levonorgestrel, a hormone in many birth control pills. It causes the mucus at the opening to the cervix to thicken so that sperm can't get through. Thus, this IUD can be considered a barrier contraceptive, like a cervical cap.

But on rare occasions, a sperm might swim past that mucus plug or -- despite the spermicidal effects of copper -- swim up the fallopian tube. Then the sperm and egg could unite. Then the IUD could interfere with implantation. Since fertilization with an IUD is rare, a fertilized egg failing to implant and flushing out is equally rare.

Now here is the twist: When a sexually active woman is not using contraception, her body has a 60-80% chance of flushing out a fertilized egg before she even knows she has conceived. In other words: women who are using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy kill fewer embryos (blastocyst) than women who are trying to get pregnant, and the more effective the contraception is, the fewer embryos (blastocyst) die. Note: a fertilized egg becomes a blastocyst, which is a ball of cells during the an early stage of human development. It is not an embryo until after implantation in the uterus.

Reproduction is like a big funnel: more eggs and sperm get produced than will ever meet. More eggs get fertilized than will ever implant. More fertilized eggs implant than will be carried to term by a female body. Genetic recombination is a highly imperfect process, and nature compensates by rejecting most fertilized eggs.

In some animals, the mother's body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Human bodies have the ability to decrease fertility and produce a spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. This process is also imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects -- even horrible defects -- get through.

Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction -- one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body. Because IUDs and implants are most effective at preventing fertilization, a woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, should use the most effective contraceptive available.

Given these realities, Colorado politicians who undermine access to state of the art contraceptives are neither minimizing embryonic death nor promoting family values. Their upside-down priorities illustrate how unquestionable, ideology-based beliefs coupled with motivated reasoning can lead even decent people to violate their own values, while still believing they are doing the right thing.

When women are forced to rely on less effective family planning methods, more spontaneous and therapeutic abortions result. So do more ill-timed and unhealthy births. More unhealthy infants suffer and die. A greater percent of children are born to single moms or unstable partnerships. Family conflict increases. More children suffer abuse or struggle with developmental disabilities. More families get mired in poverty. More youth engage in risky behavior, including early childbearing. Public costs associated with teen pregnancy, maternal health, special education, poverty and criminal justice swell. State budgets become more difficult to balance.

Colorado Representative Don Coram, fiscally conservative and opposed to abortion, co-sponsored a bill that would expand IUD access among low income women. “If you are against abortions and you are a fiscal conservative, you better take a long hard look at this bill because that accomplishes both of those," he said. Research with 10,000 women in St. Louis provides further confirmation that he is right. doclink

Provide Family Planning in Congo

February 21 , 2015   By: Richard Grossman MD

The London Summit on Family Planning was the start of something big. If kept, an array of promises made at the groundbreaking July 11 2012 event could have a major impact on the lives of women and girls for years to come ... Susan A. Cohen, Guttmacher Institute

In a prior article I wrote about how it was possible for one doctor to perform hundreds of tubal ligations in one day—but probably not honor the rights of the patients. The next column was about putting human and reproductive rights first and foremost. Today's column focuses on one country where FP2020 is making amazing improvements in the lives of women and children.

FP2020 is the nickname of the ambitious program started in 2012 at the London Summit on Family Planning. Its goal is to reach 120 million women of the 225 million who are unable to access modern contraception, but wish to regulate their fertility. These are women in developing countries who currently have little or no access to reproductive health care. Typically they have high fertility rates and high rates of child deaths, illegal abortion and maternal mortality. Often these women are the poorest of the poor, have little schooling and are subservient to men. Many of these women live grim lives.

A very high percentage of people in wealthy countries already use family planning (FP); indeed, that is part of how we became wealthy. It is time to share that knowledge and technology with our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Unfortunately where access to FP is limited, infrastructure is also challenging—transportation, sanitation and communication are often poor. Reaching these people will be difficult.

Providing full reproductive health care for every woman in the world who does not currently have access to those services would cost a whopping 40 billion dollars annually—about the same amount as the US military spends in a month. The lives saved by such an investment would make that money very well spent, however. Reaching all people in developing countries with FP and with maternal and newborn care would prevent 79,000 maternal deaths, 26 million abortions and 21 million unplanned births each year.

The cost of providing just FP services for these people would be about nine billion dollars a year. Because moms will be healthier, improved birth spacing alone would prevent over a million infant deaths globally each year!

Funding is a major challenge for FP2020. The programs are jointly supported by developing countries and by donor (wealthy) countries. In addition, generous funding has come from foundations; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major source of financial support as well as being a prime mover. Assistance also comes from the UN and the US Agency for International Development, among many other organizations.

One of the FP2020 programs is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This beleaguered country has had a miserable history of colonialism, dictators and civil war. Average income there is less than two dollars per day. Only 53 % women are literate, and only one in twenty married women uses a modern method of contraception. Indeed, a 1933 law makes contraception illegal! The average woman bears over 6 children in her lifetime and the country will double in population every 23 years—exacerbating many of its economic and political problems.

Despite these challenges, FP2020 is seeing successes in DRCongo. One project was to map existing FP resources, using a sophisticated system of data collection with cell phones. They now know where there are trained FP personnel and which pharmacies have pills or injectable birth control. Fortunately, all sites offer condoms.

Women in DRCongo have been relying on traditional methods of FP for years, with too many unintended pregnancies—more than a million in 2013. Contraceptive implants (such as Nexplanon®) were introduced in 2014 with great success. So far, the program has recruited almost 200,000 new users of modern contraception.

What FP2020 has meant to women in DRCongo is telling. More than 300,000 unintended pregnancies were averted in 2013. Calculations suggest that 1481 women's lives were saved, and 76,000 unsafe abortions were prevented by the use of modern contraception.

FP2020 offers hope for the future, especially for people in countries such as DRCongo. I am optimistic that FP2020 can help women and families lead healthier and happier lives and will be a model for the future of family planning. And I expect it and future programs will be built on respect for the people that they serve. doclink

Humanity's Perfect Storm

August 2011, Facebook

A Facebook album full of informative climate change images. doclink

These Amazing New Contraceptives Could Be the Future of Birth Control

February 06 , 2015, VOX Media   By: Megan Thielking

Due in part to high failure rates (18%), only 20% of couples choose condoms. Scientists continue working to develop better options. The pill is still the most commonly used contraceptive in the US, but since women must remember to take the pill every day, it has a 9% failure rate. Potential side effects include nausea, mood swings, and possible stroke. For these reasons, there's a push to develop new, long-acting reversible contraceptives, says Dr. Michael Thomas, OB/GYN at the University of Cincinnati's Center for Reproductive Health.

Longer acting options include a hormonal patch called Ortho Evra that must be changed every week, and the NuvaRing hormone-releasing uterine ring that must be changed every three weeks. Contraceptive implants are thin plastic devices inserted under the skin on the upper arm. Current versions release hormones for up to three years. Still, removing them requires a trip to the doctor. A T-shaped intrauterine device (IUD) under study may work for up to 12 years, but removing an IUD still requires a trip to the doctor.

Working with the Gates Foundation, MicroCHIPS Biotech is developing an implant that will last up to 16 years, which women can to turn it off by remote control. Human trails should start next year. The same microchip technology has been tested successfully in women with osteoporosis, so MicroCHIPS Biotech believes the implant could be on the market by 2018.

Over the longer term (at least 10 years), the NIH is partnering with researchers to develop a lower-dose version of emergency contraception Ella, which would work like "the pill" if taken daily. The estrogen-free pill would reduce side effects and be more effective for certain women, particularly obese women who have higher failure rates using estrogen-based contraception.

Northwestern University says that, like condoms, new vaginal rings could prevent sexually-transmitted infections. Two-in-one options under study include a contraceptive similar to the current Nuvaring, which is placed in the vagina. It uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and also releases an antiretroviral drug to inhibit HIV and herpes.

Men use about one-third of all contraception. Aside from condoms, some men rely on vasectomies that can only be reversed via surgery. In coming years men will have more reversible birth control options. In the 1950s, scientists tested on prisoners a form of male birth control that weakened the sperm. It worked until it was tested outside of the prisons, where interactions with alcohol caused vomiting, profuse sweating, and headaches. Over 60 years later, scientists are still trying. Dr. John Amory of the University of Washington is now testing molecules to gum up an enzyme that facilitates sperm maturation. If this works, they will approach the FDA within the next few years to start clinical trials.

RISUG stands for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance. Trials in India showed the procedure to be 100% effective. A doctor injects the vas deferens with a gel that makes the sperm unable to travel. The procedure lasts for years and can be reversed at any point with another injection. A U.S. company used the same concept to create Vasalgel. It is now in animal testing, still years from approval.

The NIH, in partnerships with the University of Washington and UCLA, is researching gels currently used for hormone-replacement therapy in men with low testosterone. The gels stop sperm production with hormones — much like "the pill" works for women. The challenge is to manage sperm production without reducing testosterone levels for the rest of the body. Each day men apply a progestin hormone gel on the abdomen and a testosterone gel on the arm. The progestin gel halts sperm production by blocking the supply of testosterone in the testes. Then, a testosterone gel applied to the arm reintroduces the hormone to the blood, which allows it to stimulate libido and enable ejaculation. Diana Blithe, Program Director at the NIH's Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch said that in human trials, "It works if they use it every day, and even pretty well if they miss a day," The gels will be combined into a single, easier-to-use formula. Blithe anticipates at least a 10 year wait before the product is available. doclink

Unplanned Births Associated with Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health, Compared with Planned Births

Greater Attention Needed on Consequences of Unplanned Childbearing
January 16, 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Kathryn Kost and Laura Lindberg

A study by Kathryn Kost and Laura Lindberg examines the associations between U.S. mothers' pregnancy intentions, their pregnancy-related health behaviors, and their infants' health at birth. Compared to planned birth mothers, unplanned birth mothers are less likely to recognize their pregnancy early and less likely to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed; so they are more likely to have low-birth-weight babies. "About 40% of the annual four million U.S. births result from an unintended pregnancy," says study author Kathryn Kost . "Enabling women to prevent an unintended pregnancy is a way to improve the health of children."

Data for the study come from National Center for Health Statistics surveys "National Surveys of Family Growth" conducted in the 2002 and 2006-2010. Unintended live-birth pregnancies were divided into three categories:

- Mistimed (by less than two years)

- Greatly mistimed (by more than two years), and

- Unwanted.

The authors found that for each type of unplanned birth, mothers were significantly younger, less likely to be married and more likely to be cohabiting, and more likely to have the delivery paid by Medicaid. Births to black mothers had poorer outcomes than those to white mothers, and greatly mistimed or unwanted births were more likely than planned births to be among mothers who had not graduated from high school.

Since greatly mistimed and unwanted births bring considerable disadvantages, the authors recommend additional research to explore the characteristics, circumstances, constraints and hardships of mothers having unwanted and mistimed births. They also want public policy to provide the services and support women and men need to choose the time and circumstances in which they bear a child and avoid unintended pregnancies. doclink

Publicly Funded Family Planning Yields Numerous Positive Health Outcomes While Saving Taxpayer Dollars

Three New Resources Make the Case for Investing in These Services
January 16 , 2015, Guttmacher Institute

In "Beyond Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy: The Broader Benefits of Publicly Funded Family Planning Services," the Guttmacher Institute's Senior Public Policy Associate Adam Sonfield provides research findings which prove that, by reducing unintended pregnancies, abortions, disease, and pre-term or low-birth-weight births, public investment in family planning can save taxpayers billions of dollars. In October, the Institute reported on the following benefits of services provided by publicly funded family planning centers in 2010 -- the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available:

• Contraceptive care helped women avert 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, 1.1 million unplanned births, 761,000 abortions and 164,000 preterm or low-birth-weight births.

• STI testing averted 99,000 chlamydia infections, 16,000 gonorrhea infections, 410 HIV infections, 1,100 ectopic pregnancies and 2,200 cases of infertility.

• Pap and HPV testing and HPV vaccination prevented 3,700 cases of cervical cancer and 2,100 cervical cancer deaths.

Congress and the President should not ignore these benefits when they set their priorities for the next two years. All told, the net public savings was $13.6 billion, or $7.09 saved for every public dollar spent. Congress must protect the Title X national family planning program and the national network of safety-net family planning centers while protecting and expanding Medicaid coverage of family planning; and breaking down barriers that deny people services

A series of fact sheets titled Facts on Publicly Funded Family Planning Services covers each state and the District of Columbia. They provide state-level policymakers, advocates, and providers with data and graphics showing the need for publicly funded family planning; the services provided by safety-net family planning centers, including those funded by Title X; the range of health benefits accrued from these services; and the costs and public savings associated with their provision.

The Institute also offers Health Benefits and Cost Savings of Publicly Funded Family Planning. This tool enables family planning centers and other end users to estimate the impact of and cost-savings resulting from publicly funded family planning services in their state or service area. It estimates by state the number of contraceptive clients served and the number of STI and cervical cancer screening tests. This data can help family planning providers looking to contract with Medicaid and private health plans, and advocates and policymakers looking to defend and expand public investment in family planning services.

The full analysis, "Return on Investment: A Fuller Assessment of the Benefits and Cost Savings of the US Publicly Funded Family Planning Program," by Jennifer J. Frost, Adam Sonfield, Mia R. Zolna and Lawrence B. Finer, is currently available online and appears in the December 2014 issue of The Milbank Quarterly. doclink

Demographic Challenges of the Sahel

January 16, 2015   By: John F. May, Jean-pierre Guengant, and Thomas R. Brooke

Sub-Saharan Africa's population will more than double in the next 36 years, resulting in consequences for food production, prospects for socioeconomic development, as well as for the political stability of many countries. The Sahel, in particular, will face the most extreme challenges, compounded by the threat of the Al-Qaeda.

The Sahel is a semiarid region with an average rainfall between 12 to 20 inches per year. 10 countries that make up the Sahel region -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan.

Fertility rates: Burkina Faso 5.9, Chad 6.6, Eritrea 4.7, The Gambia 5.6, Guinea-Bissau 5.0, Mali 6.1 Mauritania 4.1, Niger 7.6, Senegal 5.3, Sudan 5.2. Note: Sudan does not include South Sudan.

GDP per capita ranges from US$900 to less than US$3,000 per capita, with the only significant income coming from natural resources like oil and minerals. The World Bank lists half of the nations of the Sahel as fragile states.

Annual demographic growth rates range from 2.5% to nearly 4%. This growth has occurred because of commendable rapid decreases in infant and child mortality but lagging decreases in fertility. The region's population might increase from almost 135 million today to 330 million by 2050 and close to 670 million in 2100.

The number of youth -- those younger than 20 -- will double by 2050. Niger will have the highest youth dependency ratio. In 2050, Niger will have 132 people younger than 20 for every 100 people ages 20 to 64. The demographic dividend that could be gained from a larger workforce (when relatively more working adults support relatively fewer dependents) appears to be decades away for the majority of the countries of the Sahel.

Climate scientists claim that the temperature of the Sahel will increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and possibly 8 degrees Celsius by 2100. Rainfall will decrease and become more erratic. Agricultural production will decrease from anywhere between 13% in Burkina Faso to almost 50% in Sudan. Other sectors will also face challenges in the next decades: It is unlikely that basic educational and health care infrastructure will be able to meet the rapidly increasing numbers of youth, nor will the formal sector of the economy be able to create enough jobs for upcoming generations.

Progress in the Sahel can be achieved through five main initiatives:

Accelerating the demographic transition. Strengthening existing infrastructure. Building human capital (education and health). Improving governance. Creating jobs.

First, determined action must be taken to slow rapid population growth. Improving female education has been one of the most significant factors associated with decreased fertility, but educating the majority of girls in the Sahel will take time. Populations must also be informed of the benefits of smaller family size, access to contraceptives must be improved, and the legal age of marriage must be raised.

. . . more doclink

Climate and Population Are Linked — But Maybe Not the Way You Thought

January 24, 2015, Grist   By: Robert Engelman and Alexander Ochs

When individuals and couples use modern contraception to plan childbearing according to a schedule that suits them, they tend to have fewer children than they would otherwise. When this aspect of family planning is multiplied hundreds of millions of times, who would disagree that it would lessen the severity of human-caused climate change and boost societies' capacity to adapt to it?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently noted that population and economic growth "continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion."

Population growth might be slowed as a side effect of efforts that have multiple other benefits — such as education, empowerment of women, and the provision of reproductive health services including safe and effective contraception. And there's reason to believe that slower population growth also makes societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change already upon us or on the way.

In a statement released by the Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute in December said "chieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families, and slow population growth — all benefits to climate-compatible development," the group concluded. "We recommend including improved access to family planning among the comprehensive and synergistic efforts to achieve development compatible with addressing climate change."

The group -- mostly comprised of women -- based its work on the shared principle that both climate-compatible development and individual decision making on childbearing are human rights. This careful statement should make it easier for others, including climate negotiators, to consider the importance of making sure that everyone who wants to postpone pregnancy is able to do so.

The statement recommended raising public and policymaker support for more-generous financing for directly addressing climate change and for expanding access to family planning. Other opportunities include fostering dialogue across the communities working on climate and reproductive health, and integrating family planning into national plans for climate-compatible development.

Critical to all of these opportunities is building awareness of the significant proportion of pregnancies worldwide that are unintended. This amounts to two out five pregnancies in developing countries and an even higher number in developed countries, according to a recent Guttmacher Institute report.

Family planning has already slowed population growth significantly in the last four decades -- and, as a consequence, it undoubtedly has also slowed the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. doclink

A Natural Argument for the Birth Control Pill

February 02, 2015, Los Angeles Times   By: Malcolm Potts

Pope Francis talked about "responsible parenthood" after his trip to the Philippines, saying Catholics do not need to breed "like rabbits."

With rabbits intercourse occurs only when the female is ovulating. In humans ovulation is concealed and not associated with any physical or behavioral changes. It is ironic that the Catholic Church's approved “rhythm method" of contraception, requires precise timing of ovulation cycles. It is ideal for rabbits but not for humans.

After St. Augustine equated sex with Original Sin, the rule was to either abstain or to have intercourse only to procreate. In the 20th century, Protestant and Catholic teaching began to recognize that most human intercourse is an expression of love, not just the urge to procreate.

When reproductive scientists discovered in the late 19th century that ovulation occurs about two weeks before a woman's menstrual period, Catholic teaching approved periodic abstinence as a “natural contraceptive," but “artificial" birth control was still a no-no.

A Catholic obstetrician, John Rock, discovered how hormones control ovulation - which lead to the development of the birth control pill. His 1963 landmark book, “The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor's Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control" pointed out that the pill's hormones imitate the natural suppression of ovulation that occurs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Many observers expected that such reasoning would cause the Vatican to reverse its course on birth control.

However in 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical, “Humanae Vitae" condemning any method of contraception “intended to prevent procreation," contradicting the advice of the special commission that the previous pope had launched to discuss birth control. It was as if the church had decided that because it had “sent all those souls to hell for using contraception, it must keep maintaining that is where they are." doclink

Karen Gaia: today about 98% of Catholic women of child-bearing age have used contraception

Family Planning is the Most Cost-effective Way to Fight Climate Change

A new study says contraception and abortion services for 225 million underserved women worldwide would cut more carbon than renewable energy.
February 06, 2015, Take Part   By: Emily Gertz

Researchers at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, argue that increased funding for family planning programs in developing nations is the most effective way to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Slowing population growth would slow demand for coal, oil, or natural gas to manufacture goods, generate electricity, fuel transportation, and power agricultural production.

It would take $9.4 billion a year to meet the demand for reproductive health services for all 225 million women worldwide who want them, averting 52 million unwanted pregnancies annually. This would be an increase in current global spending on family planning of $5.3 billion a year.

$9.4 billion is far less expensive than replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind, or nuclear power. "For every $7 spent on family planning, carbon emissions would be reduced more than (one metric ton)," the report states, while "the same emissions reduction from low-carbon energy production technologies would cost at least $32."

Improved access to family planning would reduce up to 34 gigatons of emissions a year between now and mid-century -- more than third of what must be cut in coming decades to avoid extreme climate change.

Funding for family planning services would also help solve global hunger -- currently 800 million people are underfed. It will cost $209 billion a year to feed people in some of the world's least food-secure nations.

Without improved access to contraception and abortion the population could reach 11 billion by 2050 and 28 billion by 2100, resulting in even more widespread hunger, as well as devastating climate change.

The report urges the climate and food action movements to use their "substantial and growing political and policy clout" to improve funding for family planning programs. doclink

Richest 1% Percent to Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

January 19 , 2015, Common Dreams   By: Jon Queally

In less than two years, if current trends continued unchecked, the richest 1% percent of people on the planet will own at least half of the world's wealth, according to Oxfam International. The rate of global inequality is not only morally obscene, but an existential threat to the economies of the world and the very survival of the planet. Alongside climate change, spiraling disparity between the super-rich and everyone else, is brewing disaster for humanity as a whole, Oxfam said.

"Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined?" asked Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

The world's wealthiest, reads the report, "have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists."

Oxfam suggests the following policies:

* Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals

* Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education

* Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth

* Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers

* Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal

* Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee

* Agree to a global goal to tackle inequality. doclink

Perpetuating the Reign of Carbon

January 08 , 2015   By: Michael Klare

The cornerstone of Exxon's report Outlook is its claims that ever-increasing supplies of energy are needed to sustain economic growth and ensure human betterment, and that fossil fuels alone exist in sufficient quantity (and at affordable enough prices) to satisfy rising international demand. "Over the next few decades, population and income growth -- and an unprecedented expansion of the global middle class -- are expected to create new demands for energy," the report asserts.

Some of this added energy, Exxon acknowledges, will come from nuclear and renewable energy. Most, however, will have to come from fossil fuels. The world will need 35% more energy in 2040 than it does today, the Outlook estimates. That would mean adding an additional 191 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) to global supplies over and above the 526 quadrillion BTUs consumed in 2010. A small percentage of those added BTUs, about 12%, will come from renewables, but the vast majority -- estimated by Exxon at 67% -- will be provided by fossil fuels.

Here's how Exxon CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson puts it: "Energy is fundamental to economic growth, and oil is fundamental because to this point in time, we have not found, through technology or other means, another fuel that can substitute for the role that oil plays in transportation, not just passenger, individual transportation, but commercial transportation, jet fuel, marine, all the ways in which we use oil as a fuel to move people and things about this planet."

Natural gas is equally essential, Tillerson argues, because it is the world's fastest-growing source of energy and a key ingredient in electric power generation. Nor will coal be left out of the mix. It, too, will play an important role in promoting economic growth, largely by facilitating a rapid increase in global electricity supplies. Despite all the concern over coal's contributions to both urban pollution and climate change, Exxon predicts that it will remain "the No. 1 fuel for power generation" in 2040.

Without carbon-based fuels, Exxon insists, economic growth will screech to a halt and the world's poor and disadvantaged will stay immersed in poverty.

The new Exxon theme it is that we are witnessing the emergence of a new global middle class with glittering possibilities and that this expanding multitude, constituting perhaps one-half of the world's population by 2040, will require ever greater quantities of oil, coal, and natural gas if it is to have any hope of achieving its true potential.

Citing data from the Brookings Institution, the number of people who earn enough to be considered members of that global middle class will jump from approximately 1.9 billion in 2010 to 4.7 billion in 2030. China and India will be the two countries adding most substantially to the global middle class, with each acquiring hundreds of millions of newly affluent citizens, but substantial gains will also be achieved by such "key growth" countries as Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, and Indonesia.

For all this to occur, however, that rising middle class will need staggering amounts of added energy -- mostly carbon-based energy forms -- to build and power all the cars, homes, businesses, appliances, and resorts that such consumers would undoubtedly crave and demand. More income, Exxon explains, "means new demand for food, for travel, for electricity, for housing, schools, and hospitals" -- and all of these benefits "depend on energy."

Virtually none of the expected increase in global energy demand will come from the older industrialized countries, which can afford more costly alternatives; rather, its source will be developing countries, which generally seek cheap energy quickly -- that is, coal and natural gas for electricity generation and oil for transportation.

“Rising prosperity will drive increased demand for transportation," the Outlook notes. "n expanding global middle class means millions of people will buy a car for the first time." Between 2010 and 2040, the human population is expected to grow by 29%, from approximately seven billion to nine billion people; the global population of cars, SUVs, and other light-duty vehicles, however, is projected to grow by more than 100%, from 825 million to 1.7 billion. And while an increasing number of these vehicles will be powered by gas-electric hybrid engines, the majority will still be fueled by petroleum, pushing up the demand for petroleum and pumping ever more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A rising middle class seeking more consumer products, urban amenities, and travel opportunities will also require a commensurate fleet of trucks, buses, trains, ships, and planes.

Finally, the new global middle class will want more computers, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioners, and other appliances, stoking a soaring demand for electricity. Among the advanced nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a growing share of the energy used in generating electricity will indeed come from renewables and natural gas, while coal use will decline sharply. In non-OECD countries, however, the drive for electrification will be accompanied by a significant increase in the consumption of coal -- from 54 quadrillion BTUs in 2010 to 82 quadrillion in 2040. This means that the non-OECD's contribution to global warming will continue to soar, although that's not a point that Exxon is likely to emphasize.

Nor does the Exxon blueprint neglect the needs of the world's poorer citizens. “The progress enabled by modern energy has not reached everyone," the Outlook notes. “One out of every five people in the world still has no access to electricity. Even more lack modern cooking fuels."

Tillerson tells us “There are still hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world. They need electricity... They need fuel to cook their food on that's not animal dung... They'd love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably. You'd save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil fuels more available to a lot of the part of the world that doesn't have it."

In fact, Exxon predicts that reliance on fossil fuels will grow fastest in the poorest parts of the world -- precisely the areas that are expected to suffer the most from climate change. Africa, for example, is expected to witness a 103% increase in net energy consumption between now and 2040, with 83% of that increase supplied by fossil fuels.

The final part of the industry's counterattack is the claim that, for all their purported benefits, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power are just not up to the task of providing the necessary extra energy needed to sustain economic growth and propel billions of people into the middle class.

Wind and solar are more costly than the fossil fuel alternatives and so are not growing fast enough to meet rising world demand. Even though the energy provided by these renewables will expand by 315% between now and 2040, it still represents such a small share of the total global energy mix that, by the end of this period, it will only reach the 4% mark in its share of total world energy consumption (compared to 77% for carbon fuels).

Put together, this represents a dazzling vision of a future in which growing numbers of people enjoy the benefits of abundant energy and unlimited growth. Needless to say, in such imagery there will be nothing to mar the promise of unbridled prosperity for all -- no horrific droughts, colossal superstorms, or mass migrations of desperate people seeking to flee devastated areas.

Someday, it will also be seen as one of the more striking lies on whatever's left of the historical record. In fact, follow this vision to 2040, burning through whatever fossil fuels the energy companies and energy states can pull out of the earth and the ballooning carbon emissions produced will ensure planetary warming far beyond the two degrees Celsius deemed by scientists to be the maximum that the planet can safely absorb without catastrophic climate effects.

Exxon's dreamy landscapes will be replaced by burning forests, flooded coastlines, and ever-expanding deserts. As climate conditions deteriorate, croplands will wither, coastal cities and farmlands will be eradicated, infrastructure will be devastated, the existing middle class will shrink, and the poor will face ever-increasing deprivation.

Those who truly care about the future of humanity will attempt to better educate people about the risks of climate change and the role played by fossil fuel combustion in producing it. But they will also need to deconstruct and expose the futuristic fantasies deployed by the fossil fuel companies to perpetuate their dominance. However fraudulent their arguments may be, they have the potential to blunt significant progress on climate change and so must be vigorously repudiated. doclink

Karen Gaia says:

1) The ratio of fossil fuels to total energy has not changed in 25 years.

2) There is no mention of declining EROI and rising costs of recovering oil, and gas - which will suck up whatever earnings our economy produces. It is better to conserve our energy as much as possible, reserving use for producing food and producing renewable and equipment infrastructure.

U.S.: Is Inequality Killing US Mothers?

January 16, 2015,   By: Andrea Flynn

It is no surprise that maternal mortality rates (MMRs) have risen in tandem with poverty rates. Women living in the lowest-income areas in the United States are twice as likely to suffer maternal death, and states with high rates of poverty have MMRs 77% higher than states with fewer residents living below the federal poverty level. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women, and in some U.S. cities the MMR among Black women is higher than in some sub-Saharan African countries.

In terms of economic inequality it might as well be 1929, the last time the United States experienced such an extraordinary gulf between the rich and everyone else. Today 30% of Blacks, 25% of Hispanics (compared to only 10% of whites) live in poverty, and in certain states those percentages are even higher. Since 2008, the net worth of the poorest Americans has decreased and stagnant wages and increased debt has driven more middle class families into poverty. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans have enjoyed remarkable gains in wealth and income.

The Affordable Care Act is providing much-needed health coverage to many poor women for whom it was previously out of reach and if fully implemented could certainly help stem maternal deaths. But nearly 60% of uninsured Black Americans who should qualify for Medicaid live in states that are not participating in Medicaid expansion. doclink

Colorado: Bill Would Fund IUDs

February 02, 2015, Durango Herald   By: Peter Marcus

Republican Rep. Don Coram of Montrose is at odds with members of his own party after co-sponsoring a measure that would fund long-acting contraceptives for low-income women.

The measure, House Bill 1194, was introduced on Friday, despite cries that the legislation funds devices that induce abortion.

The issue has become a battle of science, with doctors arguing that there is little evidence to indicate that intrauterine devices, IUDs, cause abortion.

He said estimates indicate that a statewide program would save 4,300 abortions and tens-of-millions of public welfare dollars that are spent annually on teen and unwanted births.

Coram also spoke of the emotional and educational toll teen pregnancies can have, pointing out that by age 30, only 1.5% of teens who become pregnant obtain a school degree.

A long line of doctors are lining up to challenge the perspective that IUDs cause abortion. Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, pointed out that 99% of the time IUDs act as a hormonal barrier, making it unlikely that there would be implantation of a fertilized egg.

Coram's bipartisan legislation would provide $5 million from the state general fund to continue a program that health officials say lowered the teen birth rate in Colorado by 40%. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The IUD has been shown to cut the abortion rate. Legislators should do the math: drop the funding for IUDs and see more abortions, or fund the IUDs and subtract the 1% possible resulting abortions from the number of abortions that are prevented by the IUD.

These Amazing New Contraceptives Could Be the Future of Birth Control

February 06 , 2015, VOX Media   By: Megan Thielking

Due in part to high failure rates (18%), only 20% of couples choose condoms. Scientists continue working to develop better options. The pill is still the most commonly used contraceptive in the US, but since women must remember to take the pill every day, it has a 9% failure rate. Potential side effects include nausea, mood swings, and possible stroke. For these reasons, there's a push to develop new, long-acting reversible contraceptives, says Dr. Michael Thomas, OB/GYN at the University of Cincinnati's Center for Reproductive Health.

Longer acting options include a hormonal patch called Ortho Evra that must be changed every week, and the NuvaRing hormone-releasing uterine ring that must be changed every three weeks. Contraceptive implants are thin plastic devices inserted under the skin on the upper arm. Current versions release hormones for up to three years. Still, removing them requires a trip to the doctor. A T-shaped intrauterine device (IUD) under study may work for up to 12 years, but removing an IUD still requires a trip to the doctor.

Working with the Gates Foundation, MicroCHIPS Biotech is developing an implant that will last up to 16 years, which women can to turn it off by remote control. Human trails should start next year. The same microchip technology has been tested successfully in women with osteoporosis, so MicroCHIPS Biotech believes the implant could be on the market by 2018.

Over the longer term (at least 10 years), the NIH is partnering with researchers to develop a lower-dose version of emergency contraception Ella, which would work like "the pill" if taken daily. The estrogen-free pill would reduce side effects and be more effective for certain women, particularly obese women who have higher failure rates using estrogen-based contraception.

Northwestern University says that, like condoms, new vaginal rings could prevent sexually-transmitted infections. Two-in-one options under study include a contraceptive similar to the current Nuvaring, which is placed in the vagina. It uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and also releases an antiretroviral drug to inhibit HIV and herpes.

Men use about one-third of all contraception. Aside from condoms, some men rely on vasectomies that can only be reversed via surgery. In coming years men will have more reversible birth control options. In the 1950s, scientists tested on prisoners a form of male birth control that weakened the sperm. It worked until it was tested outside of the prisons, where interactions with alcohol caused vomiting, profuse sweating, and headaches. Over 60 years later, scientists are still trying. Dr. John Amory of the University of Washington is now testing molecules to gum up an enzyme that facilitates sperm maturation. If this works, they will approach the FDA within the next few years to start clinical trials.

RISUG stands for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance. Trials in India showed the procedure to be 100% effective. A doctor injects the vas deferens with a gel that makes the sperm unable to travel. The procedure lasts for years and can be reversed at any point with another injection. A U.S. company used the same concept to create Vasalgel. It is now in animal testing, still years from approval.

The NIH, in partnerships with the University of Washington and UCLA, is researching gels currently used for hormone-replacement therapy in men with low testosterone. The gels stop sperm production with hormones — much like "the pill" works for women. The challenge is to manage sperm production without reducing testosterone levels for the rest of the body. Each day men apply a progestin hormone gel on the abdomen and a testosterone gel on the arm. The progestin gel halts sperm production by blocking the supply of testosterone in the testes. Then, a testosterone gel applied to the arm reintroduces the hormone to the blood, which allows it to stimulate libido and enable ejaculation. Diana Blithe, Program Director at the NIH's Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch said that in human trials, "It works if they use it every day, and even pretty well if they miss a day," The gels will be combined into a single, easier-to-use formula. Blithe anticipates at least a 10 year wait before the product is available. doclink

Global Energy and Carbon Intensity Continue to Decline

New Worldwatch Institute analysis examines trends in energy and carbon emissions globally
December 17 , 2014, Worldwatch Institute   By: Gaelle Gourmelon

Global energy intensity, defined as worldwide total energy consumption divided by gross world product, decreased 0.19% in 2013. Although this may not seem impressive, considering that energy intensity increased steeply between 2008 and 2010, this small decline continues a much-needed trend toward lower energy intensity.

In the 1990s, industrial economies began turning to a new growth paradigm that relied heavily on service sectors. This "knowledge-based economy" is much less energy-intensive than the economic model adopted during industrialization. As a result, global energy intensity decreased 13.72% during the 1990s -- the largest drop in the past 50 years.

While the first decade saw great volatility, with two upward surges during 2002-04 and 2008-10, the period between 2004 and 2008 saw a decrease in intensity of 3.50%.

Global carbon intensity has followed the same general pattern of energy intensity, dropping 36.62% overall between 1990 and 2013, but rising between 2002 and 2004. After 2008, probably because of the impact of the economic recession, the decline in global carbon intensity generally slowed, although 2013 brought a slightly more rapid pace than in previous years.

China claims that its carbon intensity decreased 4.3% between 2012 and 2013 and dropped 28.56% from the 2005 level.

In November 2014, President Obama and President Xi issued a joint announcement in which China proposed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030. doclink

Karen Gaia says: at some point of peak energy, the service sector will become a nicety that we will be less and less able to afford.

Underuse of Modern Methods of Contraception: Underlying Causes and Consequent Undesired Pregnancies

December 05, 2014, Oxford Journal   By: Saverio Bellizzi, Howard L. Sobel, Hiromi Obara and Marleen Temmerman

It is already known that every year 87 million women worldwide become pregnant unintentionally because of the underuse of a modern method of contraception.

Every year, when 123 million women experience pregnancy as a harbinger of happiness, many of the remaining 87 million face it with dismay. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, after becoming pregnant without intention, many of these women are presented with a stark set of scenarios: risk of death, disability and lower educational and employment potential. Reducing the number of unintended pregnancies could avert 60% of maternal deaths and 57% of the child deaths . Access to essential contraceptive commodities remains a great concern to redress global inequity. Furthermore, many undesired pregnancies end in induced abortion

In a study of 35 countries it was found that, If more women had access to modern birth control methods and used them correctly, there would be 15 million fewer unwanted pregnancies in these countries.

Researchers looked at birth control use by women between the ages of 15 and 49, in 35 countries, between 2005 and 2012. Birth control was defined as modern or traditional. Modern methods included condoms, intrauterine devices, oral and injectable contraceptives, implants, sterilization and breast feeding. Traditional methods included withdrawal and trying to time intercourse when women weren't fertile.

The risk of unwanted pregnancy was 2.7 times higher among those who used traditional methods and 14.5 times higher among those who used no birth control compared to women who used modern methods.

In 2000, 189 nations developed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), pledging to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. It was agreed that family planning contributes to sustainable development, health and well-being of mothers, their children and gender equity. In 2005, the Member States added ‘achieve universal access to reproductive health' to MDG 5, however, despite pledges, MDG-5 is the most off-track MDG of all. Although contraceptive prevalence shows an upward trend and unmet needs show a downward trend globally, the absolute number of married women who either do not use contraception or who have an unmet need for family planning is projected to grow. This indicates that increased investment is necessary to meet the demand for contraceptive methods worldwide.

Method failure leading to pregnancy is common among reversible methods of contraception. During the first year of contraceptive use, 25-27% women stop using ‘calendar' and ‘withdrawal' methods due to unintended pregnancy, 15% stop using male condoms, 8% oral contraceptives, 3% injectable, 2% lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) and 0.2% intrauterine devices (IUDs). Women, especially those with low education, often switch to less-effective traditional methods of contraception.

Among the nearly 15,000 women in the study who did not want to get pregnant but did not use any type of birth control, the main reason (37%) for non-use was fear of side effects and health concerns.

Other reasons included opposition to birth control (22%), underestimating the risks of pregnancy (nearly 18%), cost and not knowing how to obtain modern birth control (both 2.4%).

In a U.S. News and World Report article ( ), Dr. Howard Sobel, one of the study authors said, "Health concerns was the most common reason given for not using modern contraception, yet these concerns are not backed up by evidence."

"Health workers have an important role to play in reassuring, educating, treating symptoms and finding the methods that best suits an individual. However, frontline health workers need the skills to do this, and our experience has been that many have the same misconceptions," he added.

"We could prevent the overwhelming majority of pregnancies if we could debunk the myths and misperceptions about modern methods and use long-term methods of contraception, such as implants and intrauterine devices," Sobel suggested.

"National strategies need to be put in place to address unfounded health concerns, fear of side effects, opposition and underestimated risk of pregnancy. These need to be coupled with good quality contraception that is available and affordable," he concluded. doclink

Joe Bish, of Population Media Center said: This finding only exacerbates the maddening irony that every year, 87 million women worldwide become pregnant unintentionally -- of course, that 87 million figure bears a striking resemblance to annual net global population growth. In other words, all things being equal, if the human community could just figure out how to bring 100% intention to our reproduction, annual global population growth could conceivably fall to zero immediately.

Child, Bride, Mother

February 08, 2015   By: Stephanie Sinclair

In Guatemala the legal age of marriage is 14 with parental consent. In the Petén, in northern part of the country, the law seems to be more of a suggestion.

In the villages of Guatemala, about 53% of women age 20 to 24 were married before age 18, and 13% before age 15, according to the Population Council. Many of these girls had withdrawn from their educations; were subject to physical and sexual violence; risked dangerous pregnancies and went without crucial medical care. Their lives were controlled by older men who considered the girls little more than sexual and domestic servants.

These physically immature and psychologically unready young mothers were prone to complications during childbirth, which often took place at home. For girls in Petén villages, the journey to competent care could take hours and the consequences dire. Petén has the highest rate of maternal mortality in Guatemala. The infant mortality is also high.

The Too Young to Wed transmedia project, a partnership with the UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund, produced poignant images and a video which can be seen by following the link in the headline. doclink

World Population:

Visitors since 97/8/3: