Fall 2007 VOL. 39, ISSUE 2
Global Warming... Making the Population CO 2 nnection
from the president
Recently, I was invited as the head of America’s largest population organization to address nine United States senators on the topic of international family planning at a meeting convened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. My comments were brief and to the point: Repeal Bush’s Global Gag Rule. Lift the Bush Administration ban on funding for UN family planning programs. Restore the U.S. to its onetime role as the world leader for international family planning. There is, I noted, a virtue to clarity. It’s a quality sometimes in short supply in our nation’s capital. So, I was very pleased by the careful attention that each senator paid to the topic at hand. And I was especially pleased, though
not surprised, when Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said she would do everything possible to repeal the Global Gag Rule. I know she and others present will work hard for the entire domestic and international family planning agenda. Family planning is a woman’s right. It’s a human right. And population stabilization is an environmental imperative if we’re going to get a handle on global warming in this already-too-crowded world. According to the UN, we can reduce global population growth by a full three billion people in the next 43 years. But it won’t happen if we don’t act. It won’t happen if we just hope that someone else, somewhere else, will do all the
VISIONARY CO-FOUNDER OF POPULATION CONNECTION DIES
other disciplines, his work influenced many Yale students to become activists, as seen by the more than 200 student members in the Yale ZPG chapter by the first Earth Day in 1970. In his field of ecology and evolutionary biology, Dr. Remington founded the International Lepidopterists’ Society, and the Connecticut Entomological Society. He served as curator of the Entomology Division at the Peabody Museum, assembling a world-class insect collection numbering more than one million specimens. He was active in the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Connecticut State Department of Environmental Protection, and the New Haven Land Trust. His areas of interest included evolution, entomology, endangered species and extinction theory, world population and the environment, insular evolutionary ecology, speciation theory, and forest insect ecology. His
by Bill Ryerson, President, Population Media Center
Yale University biology professor Charles Remington died on May 31, 2007 at age 85. An early leader in the population field, he co-founded Zero Population Growth (now Population Connection) in 1968 with Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich and attorney Dick Bowers, and later chaired the ZPG Foundation. As a professor for over 40 years, Dr. Remington’s commitment to population issues inspired many with the breadth and depth of his knowledge about ecology and evolutionary biology. Among the first academics to integrate population curriculum with
work. That’s why we must end the Bush policy of obstinate obstructionism. Every time a legislator takes a stand, it’s one more step in the right direction. And every time a legislator hears from you that there is a very real population connection to almost every other problem we face, it can move us forward. Maybe it won’t be fast enough or far enough—at first. But it sure beats the last seven years of disastrous backsliding by the man from Crawford, TX and his feckless friends.
John Seager email@example.com
Charles Lee Remington. Photo: Michael Marsland
multiple interests were tied together by his holistic view of the world and his concern with the health of the globe’s ecological systems. His passing has left a profound void in the fields of population and ecology.
Volume 39, Issue 2 Fall 2007 Cover: Icebergs in Dorian Bay. Photo: Paul A. Souders/Corbis
Pg. 5 Global Warming: Making the Population Connection
Pg. 11 Poorest Nations Will Bear Brunt as World Warms
by Marian Starkey
by Andrew C. Revkin
Pg. 14 Chesapeake Rising: The Changing Map of the Chesapeake by Sarah Burstyn
D E PA RT M E N T S
Field & Outreach
In the News Extreme Weather Plants Seeds of Change
The Parched Earth
Printed on recycled paper
A forest in Mindat, Myanmar is burned in preparation to grow crops, in South Chin state. Photo: Ye Tun Oo, Courtesy of Photoshare
Between 1850 and 1990, an estimated 120 billion tons of carbon were released into the atmosphere as a result of deforestation alone. From 1980 through 1990, forest loss released 1.6 billion tons.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are greater than those of Great Britain, Canada, Russia, India, Brazil, & South Korea combined. –World Resources Institute
The area of the A r c t i c ’s p e r e n n i a l polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9% per decade.
–Natural Resources Defense Council
The Reporter — Fall 2007
Although local temperatures fluctuate n a t u r a l l y, o v e r t h e p a s t 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest r a t e i n r e c o r d e d h i s t o r y. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990.
–Natural Resources Defense Council
A m e r i c a ’s c a r s , t r u c k s , a n d buses account for 20% of U.S. global warming pollution.
–Natural Resources Defense Council
Americans make up just 4% of the world’s population but produce 25% of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuel burning—the largest share of any country. –Natural Resources Defense Council
Compiled by Sarah Burstyn, Communications Fellow www.popconnect.org
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
In the News Volume 39, Issue 2 Fall 2007 Editor Lee S. Polansky, Ph.D. Assistant Editor Marian Starkey Contributors Sarah Burstyn, Carly Knoell, Stacie Murphy, Andrew Revkin, Bill Ryerson, Cory Sanderson, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Kandis Wood, Erin Zimmer Graphic Artist Lindsay Raue
Population Connection Overpopulation threatens the quality of life for people everywhere. Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources. The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071) is published by Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20037 Phone: 202-332-2200 or 1-800-767-1956 Fax: 202-332-2302 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.popconnect.org Board Chair Patricia Burke President John Seager
A hidden culprit behind the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region is global climate change, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon wrote in a recent newspaper editorial. Although we tend to employ political or military terms when discussing the violence in Darfur, “its roots,” writes Ban, are “a more complex dynamic.” One of the root problems of the conflict is global warming. More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003, when local rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government. Violence in Darfur began in response to worsening drought conditions in the region that caused both water and food shortages. Ban’s warning follows that of other experts, including Britain’s Home Secretary John Reid, who pointed out that “the lack of water and agricultural land is a significant contributory factor to the tragic conflict we see unfolding in Darfur. We should see this as a warning sign” of continued social dislocation. Rainfall in Sudan started declining in the 1980s because of “man-made global warming,” said Ban. He called for economic development in the region that might involve new irrigation and water storage techniques. Meeting unmet contraceptive need would also address the very root of climate change: population growth. Sources: The Washington Post, AP Online, June 16, 2007; www.seedmagazine.com Compiled by Kandis Wood, Stanback Political Research Intern
MANGROVES—THE UNEXPECTED CLIMATE CHANGE WEAPON Mangrove forests, found along the coasts in tropical climates throughout the world, may become tools in the fight against global climate change. A study by Malaysian professor emeritus Jin Eong Ong indicates that mangroves may sequester the most carbon of any ecosystem on earth, soaking up the carbon dioxide humans emit. 4
The Reporter — Fall 2007
Shrimp Farm Ponds in Mangrove Forest. Photo: Tim Wright/CORBIS
VIOLENCE IN DARFUR LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE
However, mangrove forests in South America and Southeast Asia are being destroyed to clear their shallow ocean-side habitats for the building of shrimp ponds to meet the increasing demand for seafood in rich countries. Shrimp farmers only use each pond for a short while before clearing more forest to build new ponds—a technique used to avoid disease in shrimp populations. In other areas of the world, coastal population growth has led to similar degradation. Soon, these destructive trends might change. If carbon trading becomes mainstream, the destruction may stop, as the forests could be “traded” as a commodity. If a developing country agreed to preserve a forest of mangroves, it could claim a carbonsequestering credit and then sell it to an industrialized country struggling to reduce emissions. Thus, mangrove forests would be preserved both for their ecological value and as a new weapon against global warming. Sources: Kennedy Warne, “Forests of the Tide.” National Geographic, February 2007. Compiled by Cory Sanderson, Field Intern
There is an interesting contrast between population and consumption issues. There is a stunningly large unmet need for family planning, which means that population growth rates are amenable to change. You don’t need to ask people to change their minds at all, you need only to make family planning easier to obtain. Consumption is the opposite: There is no unmet need for consuming less, and therefore reducing consumption is painfully difficult to achieve. -Martha Campbell, Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health
Global Warming: Making the Population Connection Marian Starkey, Communications Manager at Population Connection, answers frequently asked questions about the links between climate change and population stabilization.
Deforestation on the road to Keren from Asmara in Eritrea. Photo: D. Hinrichsen, Courtesy of Photoshare
might be one of the most cost-effective ways to preserve the planet’s environment for the future.”1
What is the relationship in industrialized countries? In the United States, population and carbon dioxide emissions have both risen by exactly 18 percent since 1990. Because people produce a growing share of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more people produce more emissions.
What is the connection between population and climate change?
What about developing countries?
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Where it gets a little more complicated is in developing
stated in its recent series of reports that anthropogenic—
countries, which also have higher fertility rates. In the
or human—sources of greenhouse gas emissions are the
developing world, people contribute to greenhouse gas
largest source worldwide. Greenhouse gases speed global
emissions primarily through deforestation. Deforestation is
warming. A rapidly growing population can cause faster
responsible for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas
warming than a stabilizing population. As John Cleland of
emissions. In the next 24 hours, deforestation will release as
the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said,
much CO2 into the atmosphere as 8 million people
“Prevention of unwanted births today by family planning
flying from London to New York.2
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
T H E P O P U L AT I O N W E D G E Two professors at Princeton, physicist Robert Socolow and ecologist Steve Pacala, have devised what Time Magazine termed “a remarkably straightforward way of approaching” global warming. As co-directors of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), a project aimed at addressing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, Socolow and Pacala created the “stabilization triangle” and its cumulative “wedges” to depict the discrepancy between projected carbon emissions based on past growth and desired “flat path” future carbon emissions. The flat path describes annual carbon emissions if rates remain constant from today, at approximately 7 billion tons annually. The projected path will bring global emissions to approximately 14 billion tons per year by 2055, based on the growth rate of 1.5 percent during the past thirty years. The stabilization triangle represents the total metric tons of carbon emissions that could be avoided by 2055 if the flat path could be achieved. To do this, the authors suggest a “wedge” strategy. Each wedge represents one billion tons of carbon and a mitigation technique designed to prevent that wedge from occurring. Socolow and Pacala recommend fifteen different mitigation techniques, from increased energy efficiency to carbon sinks, to be combined as appropriate to equal the requisite seven wedges. (continued on next page)
When a population outstrips its available food, forests are cleared for farmland and to provide wood for burning. “You have climate change and reduced rainfall and shrinking areas of arable land; and then you add population growth and you have the elements of an explosion,” said Francis Kornegay, a senior analyst at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg.3 In Africa and parts of Latin America, population growth is directly responsible for deforestation, as subsistence farmers slash and burn land and overgraze animals.
How can population stabilization be part of the global warming solution? When women can choose the number of children they have, they consistently choose smaller families. Every industrialized country has completed the demographic transition, the switch from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates. Developing countries, however, are caught in the middle of the transition, with high birth rates and decreasing death rates. In countries where resources are scarce, smaller families are crucial. Smaller families reduce community size, and in effect, slow deforestation. It is equally important to address population growth in wealthy countries. Where consumption is high, it is essential that every birth be intended. According to current per capita carbon emissions data by country, if the United Nations’ low population projection is achieved in 2050, as opposed to the high projection, 2.69 billion tons of carbon emissions could be prevented from entering the atmosphere every year. Currently, annual carbon emissions are 7 billion tons.
Is this a very expensive process? No! In order to meet the goals of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (“Cairo”), the U.S. should contribute $1.2 billion in addition to the $1.8 billion we already give. That amounts to $4 per American each year, a small price to pay for the improved health of women, babies, and families all over the world, and for the security and environmental benefits that would follow. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, known for his Graphics: The Carbon Mitigation Initiative
The Reporter — Fall 2007
revolutionary ideas about ending world poverty, believes
POPULATION AND EMISSIONS SCENARIOS, 2050 Current (2005) Low Medium World Population (In Billions) 6.4 7.6 9.0 Global Carbon Emissions (Billion Tons) 7.1 7.2 8.4 this is a win-win situation: “A move to lower fertility rates
High 10.5 9.9
They did not include population stabilization as one of the
will mean healthier children, a much faster growth in liv-
strategies in their initial recommendations. However, in an
ing standards, and reduced environmental pressures.”4
article recently published in Scientific American, they state “lower birth rates can produce a wedge, too—for example,
Won’t it take a very long time?
if they hold the global population in 2056 near eight billion
Population momentum will ensure that the world population
people when it otherwise would have grown to nine billion”
continues to grow for some time after fertility rates drop,
(Socolow & Pacala, 2006).
but attitudes and behaviors can change relatively quickly. In
Assuming, as our Q+A does, that reducing population
Brazil, for example, the total fertility rate (TFR) dropped from
would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, what would it take
6.15 children per woman in 1950 to 2.35 in 2005. Mauritius
to make a difference? To find out, we multiplied each
went from 6.27 to 1.91 in the same period. Mexico went
country’s per capita carbon emissions rate by that country’s
from a TFR of 6.7 to 2.4. These are radical decreases in fer-
projected population for 2050 (comparing the UN’s low,
tility, achieved through the simple and cost-effective means
medium and high projections).
of education and access to family planning. As countries industrialize and child mortality drops, the desire for large families decreases. Our mission as an aidgiving country should be to improve overall public health services in poor countries and to provide contraception to everyone who wants it. Fertility rates in industrialized countries would drop even more if everyone could afford family planning and knew where to get it and how to use it. In just one example, a program in a Baltimore high school that provided free condoms and other contraceptives to
By achieving the low population projection for 2050 instead
students saw the pregnancy rate drop 30.1 percent in just
of the high projection, annual carbon emissions could be
28 months.5 Population Connection lobbies for Medicaid
reduced by 2.69 billion tons, more than two and a half wedges.
coverage of contraception. We believe that every woman,
The emissions totals that we arrived at by looking only at
regardless of her income, should be able to protect herself
future population scenarios are much lower than the project-
against unwanted pregnancy.
ed 14 billion tons of Socolow & Pacala. That’s because they assume economic growth will continue to follow the same
Do people really want access to family planning? Yes. The term “unmet need” describes a woman of reproductive age who is sexually active, does not want to become pregnant in the next two years, but is not using a modern method of contraception. There are currently over 200 million women in the developing world with unmet need.6 These women do not need to be convinced to have smaller families—they already want them. In Ethiopia, where deforestation is projected to destroy all forests in less than 20 years, nearly 36 percent of women have expressed a desire to have access to contraceptives, and ten percent of women have never www.popconnect.org
path it has over the past 30 years. Our calculation used today’s per capita emission rates applied to future populations. Although per capita emissions will likely change between now and 2050 due to economic development in poorer countries and environmentally sustainable technologies in wealthy ones, the basic point remains the same: More people equal significantly higher emissions. Sources Assumptions by the UN in making population projections are described on this website: http://esa.un.org/unpp. R. Socolow, S. Pacala, “Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies,” Science; 305, 2004: 968-972. R. Socolow, S. Pacala, “A Plan to Keep Carbon in Check,” Scientific American; 295, 2006: 50-57. Fall 2007— The Reporter
T H E WA L K T O S A F E MOTHERHOOD
even heard of birth control.7 Countries in West Africa have some of the highest rates of unmet need in the world, with an estimated 30 percent of married women in Benin
The air-conditioned Land Cruiser bumped along the
expressing a desire for birth control.8 Nepal has been
pot-holed dirt road, passing a group of men riding a
extensively deforested for agricultural land and firewood,
donkey cart. They stood, crammed together. One man
and only 29 percent of forests remain, while unmet need
waved; the others smiled and looked enviously at our
approaches 28 percent of all women.9,10
comfortable, shiny vehicle. We were in rural Senegal,
Is providing contraception to couples effective in reducing fertility rates?
eight hours east of the capital of Dakar, in the vast region of Tambacounda. We arrived at the village to be greeted by a throng
Currently, about 500 million women in the developing
of children dressed in a dizzying mix of traditional,
world benefit from family planning programs. This
boldly colored Senegalese fabric and tattered second-
prevents 187 million unintended pregnancies every year.
hand clothing. We could see evidence of kwashiorkor,
Providing contraception to the additional 200 million
a protein deficiency disorder, from their frizzy yellow
women who want to plan their families would avoid
hair and swollen bellies. Yet the children were excited
another 52 million unintended pregnancies.
and eager to meet us. As we waited for their mothers to return from the peanut fields, we took pictures of
Aren’t there cultural and religious obstacles?
the children with our digital camera, delighting them
There are always obstacles to progress. Culture and reli-
with the sight of their images on the screen. With each
gion can pose challenges to effective family planning pro-
photo their faces got increasingly goofy, until we were
grams, but there are many quite religious countries that
all doubled over laughing hysterically.
have had enormous success in lowering fertility rates.
My colleague and I were visiting villages in
In Iran, an extremely strict Muslim country, the fertility
Tambacounda to interview women for a project led by
rate dropped from 7.0 in 1950 to 2.12 in 2005. Rather than
Africare, addressing barriers to maternal and child health
religion, economics seem to play a more important role in
care in Senegal. After our visit we would issue a report,
fertility trends. The Iranian government encourages female
so we hoped to get a
employment and offers free contraceptives. These changes
lot of information
were made in response to rapid population growth, which
from the women. The
was hindering development at the national level.
interpreter spoke to
In Spain, a largely Catholic country, the fertility rate
them in Wolof, as we
dropped from 2.57 in 1950 to 1.29 in 2005. Catholic Italy
asked our questions
went from 2.32 to 1.29. In all of these countries religion is
an important aspect of life, but economic considerations
One woman, and missing a front tooth, told how us how she had given birth to her new baby boy. She visited (continued on next page)
The Reporter — Fall 2007
and the pursuit of goals outside motherhood are Photo: Laura Flynn-Northcote
apparently more important. While contraception violates the Pope’s idea of “traditional family values,” many Catholics use family planning, brushing his condemnation aside as old-fashioned. The Pope recently visited Brazil, where he held his ground against contraception. Two weeks later, Brazil’s president introduced a program to subsidize birth control pills, in
Photo: Laura Flynn-Northcote
addition to the already-free condoms available in many locations. As Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen observed in response to the Pope’s comments, “It’s ridiculous to ban contraceptives… Today no one is a virgin when they get married. Show me someone who’s a virgin!”
What about the U.S.? Is this just a problem for developed nations?
the latrine (a hole in the ground behind her hut) and
Although Gisele might not be the most official source of
cement floor. At this, the woman slapped her hands
reproductive health statistics, she is correct that most
on the ground and made a “thudding” noise, as the
people are not virgins at marriage. In the United States,
women laughed together in sisterly embarrassment.
95 percent of people have sex before marriage. Clearly,
When we asked why she had not visited the doctor,
the majority of people in this country are not against
she asked her own question. “How would I get
premarital sex. The United States, with its growing
there?” She pointed out that we ourselves had seen
religious extremism, is a place where family planning
the poor condition of the local roads. She continued,
efforts could be improved. Despite the fact that most
“Riding the donkey cart would cause more harm than
without warning, the baby fell out, right onto the
good. I couldn’t walk 13 miles being so pregnant. We women have babies at home because it is the only way for us.”
W H AT D O W E N E E D TO DO TO GET S TA RT E D ? ✓ Thank your lawmakers for their support
Without money for contraception and medical care, and without transportation, the women told us, they simply could not access the services they needed. Another woman combed her daughter’s hair as she recounted a recent visit to a clinic. “I started walking
on important issues or tell them that you
before the sun came up so I could get to the clinic
are displeased with their record.
before the line was too long. It took me four hours to
✓ Talk to friends, family and community members about the link between population stabilization and global warming. ✓ Break the link between population
get there. I waited for eight hours. Then the doctor closed the clinic before he had a chance to see me. So I walked the four hours home.” The women were solemn, but stalwart about their lacking care. They recognize the problem but do not
growth and rising emissions by being a
have the means to fix it. Africare currently trains tradi-
more responsible consumer: Drive less,
tional birth attendants in Tambacounda to use mod-
walk more, and take public transporta-
ern techniques, but clinics must also be supplied with
tion when possible. Challenge yourself
contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
to reduce your eco-footprint and
New clinics must be built as well—ideally within rea-
counteract population growth’s effect
sonable walking distance of every town. The U.S. and
on emissions by halving your own.
other countries must reach their Cairo commitments in terms of donor aid. The women of the world—and Tambacounda—are counting on it.
Fall 2007— The Reporter
As people in the least developed countries have smaller families, won’t they tend to produce more carbon emissions as their incomes rise? Yes, and they should. Poor people are entitled to a better quality of life. That will require higher emissions for those who currently emit next to nothing. In a world where one billion people cling to survival on less than $1.00 a day, wealthy nations need to reduce carbon consumption to “make room” for others.
Teen Mother. Photo: Vladimir Godnik/bilderlounge/Corbis
Leap-frogging is one way to avoid massive increases in
Americans are in favor of easily accessible family planning, for those living in rural areas and in areas with many restrictions, and for many teenagers, access remains elusive. The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any industrialized country. Younger mothers mean shorter generations. This makes the population grow faster. Because almost all teen pregnancies are unplanned, there is a lot of room for improvement on this front. Abstinence-only education is unscientific, unproven, and ultimately, harmful. It is imperative that teenagers know how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and disease. Comprehensive sex education does not encourage teens to have sex. Graduates of these programs do not have sex earlier than teens who receive abstinence-only education. However, teens who receive comprehensive sex ed have a higher rate of contraceptive use when they do have sex.
The Reporter — Fall 2007
emissions in developing countries. Leap-frogging consists of bringing clean technologies to developing countries before they have a chance to use the old, dirty methods that rich countries have traditionally used. Instead of building coal power plants, windmills and solar panels can be used as development tools in places where no electricity currently exists. Governments can be a catalyst for change as well: China’s government requires that all new cars purchased meet fuel economy standards stricter than those in the U.S. Sidebars by Marian Starkey, Communications Manager Endnotes 1
John Cleland, et. al., “Family planning: the unfinished agenda,” The Lancet Sexual and Reproductive Health Series. October 2006. 2
Daniel Howden, “Deforestation: The Hidden Cause of Global Warming,” The Independent. May 14, 2007.
3 Melanie Stetson Freeman, “A Long Way Between Wells,” Christian Science Monitor. November 6, 2006. 4
Jeffrey Sachs, “Lower Fertility: a Wise Investment,” Scientific American. September 2006. Laurie S. Zabin, et al., “Evaluation of a Pregnancy Prevention Program for Urban Teenagers,” Family Planning Perspectives.1986.
S. Singh, J.E. Darroch, M. Vlassoff, J. Nadeau, “Adding it Up: The Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care,” Allan Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA. 2004. “Ethiopia: Rapid population growth undermining development – U.S.,” June 5, 2005. http://www.engenderhealth.org.
USAID, Policy Project Briefing Paper, “Perspectives on Unmet Need for Family Planning in West Africa: Benin.” www.policyproject.com.
Population Action International, Research Commentary, Elizabeth Leahy, “Mapping Supplies: Are Contraceptives Going Where They’re Most Needed?” www.population-action.org.
POOREST NATIONS WILL BEAR BRUNT AS WORLD WARMS By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times
to new scientific assessments. As the oceans swell with water from melting ice sheets, it is the crowded river deltas in southern Asia and Egypt, along with small island nations, that are most at risk. ‘’Like the sinking of the Titanic, catastrophes are not democratic,’’ said Henry I. Miller, a fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. ‘’A much higher fraction of passengers from the cheaper decks were lost. We’ll see the same phenomenon with global warming.’’ Those in harm’s way are beginning to speak out. ‘’We have a message here to tell these countries, that you are
The world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far
causing aggression to us by causing global warming,’’
the most to the atmospheric changes linked to global
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said at the African
warming, are already spending billions of dollars to limit
Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February.
their own risks from its worst consequences, like drought
‘’Alaska will probably become good for agriculture, Siberia
and rising seas.
will probably become good for agriculture, but where does
But despite longstanding treaty commitments to help
that leave Africa?’’
poor countries deal with warming, these industrial powers climate and coastal hazards in the world’s most vulnerable regions—most of them close to the equator and overwhelmingly poor. A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that since 1990 has been assessing global warming, recently underlined this growing climate divide, according to scientists involved in writing it—with wealthy nations far from the equator not only experiencing fewer effects but also better able to withstand them. Two-thirds of the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that can persist in the air for centuries, has come in nearly equal proportions from the United States and Western European countries. Those and other wealthy nations are investing in windmill-powered plants that turn seawater to drinking water, in flood barriers and floatable homes, and in grains and soybeans genetically altered to flourish even in a drought. In contrast, Africa accounts for less than 3 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel burning since
Photo: Project Concern International, Courtesy of Photoshare
are spending just tens of millions of dollars on ways to limit
Local tribes band together and search nomadically for water after being displaced due to severe droughts in Ethiopia. Most of their livestock has died from dehydration and/or malnutrition so they must pool their resources together in order to salvage the little they have left.
Scientists say it has become increasingly clear that world-
1900, yet its 840 million people face some of the biggest
wide precipitation is shifting away from the equator and
risks from drought and disrupted water supplies, according
toward the poles. That will nourish crops in warming
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
During a flood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, people from low-lying areas live in temporary shelters along neighborhood streets. Photo: Edson Whitney/CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare
through the decades, at some point—and we don’t know where these inflection points are—negative effects of climate change dominate everywhere.’’ There are some hints that wealthier countries are beginning to shift their focus toward fostering adaptation to warming outside their own borders. Relief organizations including Oxfam and the International Red Cross, foreseeing a world of worsening climate-driven disasters, are turning some of their attention toward projects like expanding regions like Canada and Siberia while parching countries— like Malawi in sub-Saharan Africa—which are already prone to drought. While rich countries are hardly immune from drought and flooding, their wealth will largely insulate them from harm, at least for the next generation or two, many experts say. Cities in Texas, California, and Australia are already building or planning desalination plants, for example. And federal studies have shown that desalination can work far from the sea, purifying water from brackish aquifers deep in the ground in places like New Mexico. ‘’The inequity of this whole situation is really enormous if you look at who’s responsible and who’s suffering as a result,’’ said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations climate panel. In a recent report, in February, the panel said that decades of warming and rising seas were inevitable with the existing greenhouse-gas buildup, no matter what was done about cutting future greenhouse gas emissions.
mangrove forests as a buffer against storm surges, planting trees on slopes to prevent landslides, or building shelters on high ground. Some officials from the United States, Britain, and Japan say foreign-aid spending can be directed at easing the risks from climate change. The United States, for example, has promoted its three-year-old Millennium Challenge Corporation as a source of financing for projects in poor countries that will foster resilience. It has just begun to consider environmental benefits of projects, officials say. Industrialized countries bound by the Kyoto Protocol, the climate pact rejected by the Bush administration, project that hundreds of millions of dollars will soon flow via that treaty into a climate adaptation fund. But for now, the actual spending in adaptation projects in the world’s most vulnerable spots, totaling around $40 million a year, ‘’borders on the derisory,’’ said Kevin Watkins, the director of the United Nations Human
Mr. Miller, of the Hoover Institution, said the world should focus less on trying to rapidly cut greenhouse gases and more on helping regions at risk become more resilient. Many other experts insist this is not an either-or situation. They say that cutting the vulnerability of poor regions needs much more attention, but add that unless emissions are curbed, there will be centuries of warming and rising seas that will threaten ecosystems, water supplies, and resources from the poles to the equator, harming rich and poor. Cynthia E. Rosenzweig, a NASA expert on climate and agriculture who is a lead author of the United Nations panel’s forthcoming impacts report, said that while the richer northern nations may benefit temporarily, ‘’As you march
The Reporter — Fall 2007
A man in Chembanoda, Kerala State, India, sits in front of the remains of his house that was destroyed during a massive flood. Photo: K. K. Santhosh, Courtesy of Photoshare
An entire village in northern Rwanda collects water from one small muddy hole. Photo: David M. Méthot/Rowena Hopkins, Courtesy of Photoshare
Development Report Office, which tracks factors affecting the quality of life around the world. The lack of climate aid persists even though nearly all the world’s industrialized nations, including the United States under the first President Bush, pledged to help when they signed the first global warming treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 1992. Under that treaty, industrialized countries promised to assist others ‘’that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation.’’ It did not specify how much they would pay. A $3 billion Global Environmental Facility fund main-
to pollinate before the first heat waves, keeping yields high.) The seed costs 30 percent more than standard vari-
tained by contributions from developed countries has nearly
eties, he said, but the premium is worth it. Precipitation is
$1 billion set aside for projects in poorer countries that limit
still vital, he said, repeating an old saw: ‘’Rain makes grain.’’
emissions of greenhouse gases. But critics say those projects
But if disaster strikes, crop insurance will keep him in
often do not have direct local benefits, and many are hap-
pening in the large fast-industrializing developing countries —not the poorest ones. James L. Connaughton, President Bush’s top adviser on environmental issues, defended the focus on broader devel-
All of these factors together increase resilience, Mr. Reifstack and agriculture experts said, and they are likely to keep the first world farming for generations to come. Robert O. Mendelsohn, an economist at Yale focused on
opment efforts. ‘’If we can shape several billion dollars in
climate, said that in the face of warming, it might be neces-
already massive development funding toward adaptation,
sary to abandon the longstanding notion that all places
that’s a lot more powerful than scrounging for a few million
might someday feed themselves. Poor regions reliant on
more for a fund that’s labeled climate,’’ he said.
unpredictable rainfall, he said, should be encouraged to
But it is clear that the rich countries are far ahead of the poor ones in adapting to climate change. For example, American farmers are taking advantage of advances in
shift people out of farming and into urban areas and import their food from northern countries. Another option, experts say, is helping poor regions do a
genetically modified crops to prosper in dry or wet years,
better job of forecasting weather. In parts of India, farmers
said Donald Coxe, an investment strategist in Chicago who
still rely more on astrologers for monsoon predictions than
tracks climate, agriculture and energy for the BMO
Financial Group. The new seed varieties can compensate for
Michael H. Glantz, an expert on climate hazards at the
a 10 or 15 percent drop in rainfall, he said, just the kind of
National Center for Atmospheric Research who has spent
change projected in some regions around the tropics. But,
two decades pressing for more work on adaptation to
he said, the European Union still opposes efforts to sell such
warming, has called for wealthy countries to help establish
modified grains in Africa and other developing regions.
a center for climate and water monitoring in Africa, run by
Technology also aids farmers in the north. John Reifstack, a third-generation farmer in Champaign, Ill., said he would soon plant more than 30 million genetically modified corn
Africans. But for now, he says he is doubtful that much will be done. ‘’The third world has been on its own,’’ he said, ‘’and I
seeds on 1,000 acres. It will take him about five days, he
think it pretty much will remain on its own.’’
said, a pace that would have been impossible just four
Reprinted with permission from The New York Times, www.newyorktimes.com.
years ago. (Speedy planting means the crop is more likely www.popconnect.org
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
CHESAPEAKE RISING: THE CHANGING MAP OF THE CHESAPEAKE By Sarah Burstyn, Communications Fellow
the Holland Straits of the Chesapeake Bay, in Dorchester County, Maryland, an abandoned house sits amidst the wilderness of Holland Island. One hundred years ago,
the house was one of at least sixty homes in a lively fishing community complete with its
own school, church, post office, and general store. But erosion and rising sea level were consuming Holland Island. Families began moving their homes piece by piece to the mainland. By 1922, Holland
Blackwater Refuge. All photos by Sarah Burstyn
Island was a ghost town. Today, the island lies a mere one and a half miles long—half its 1915 size. And Holland Island’s fate was not unique; since Captain John Smith first sailed up the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, at least thirteen islands that Smith recorded in his maps and journals have vanished from the landscape. What the region will look like in the future may in large part be decided by climate change. As climate has warmed, global sea level has risen four to eight inches just over the last century. The rate of sea level rise within the Chesapeake Bay is twice as high. Combine this rise in sea level with erosion and other factors, and much of the region’s valued wetlands, beaches, and even towns will be lost.
The Reporter — Fall 2007
I visited Dorchester County on a white, misty afternoon
proved another problem: The beaver-like pests love to
in June to interview Dixie Birch, Supervisory Wildlife
munch on marsh grasses. In 2004, about 8,300 nutria were
Biologist at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Established
eradicated from the grounds through trapping and hunting
in 1933 as the first wildlife refuge in the northeast, the
efforts, a major step towards preserving the marsh.
sanctuary spans more than 27,000 acres of Maryland’s
Storms, too, can wipe out large portions of the marsh at
Eastern Shore, with equal parts marsh, forest, and water.
once, and global warming increases the frequency and
This ratio, though, is changing as more and more water
severity of such storm events. Dorchester County lost entire
replaces land every year.
areas of its wetlands when Hurricane Isabel hit in 2003.
First established as a refuge for migratory birds, the protected lands are one of the most diverse habitats in the country, providing shelter to more than 250 species of
Storms can also cause saltwater intrusion, killing much of the vegetation. Mike Burke, former Associate Director of the EPA’s
birds, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, tens of thou-
Chesapeake Bay Program and a former member of
sands of geese and ducks during peak migration periods,
Population Connection’s Board of Directors, elaborated on
and many resident mammals including foxes, otters, deer,
how climate change augments erosion. Burke, who lives in
and the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel. The sanctuary
the Chesapeake Bay watershed, said that storms can be
has one of the highest concentrations of American bald
extremely damaging to coastal areas, pointing out that the
eagles in the country. But the marsh is disappearing—fast. Aerial maps of
region is losing not only its marshes, but important barrier islands, too. “James Island used to be a couple thousand
Blackwater throughout the years show a staggering loss of
acres, and now it’s down to about a handful—like maybe
wetlands; since its establishment, more than 8,000 acres
ten acres. And the same thing happened to Poplar Island.”
(about 12 square miles) of wetlands have turned to water.
As Dr. Birch drove me around a seven-mile loop, she
Sea level rise is one of the top culprits. Maryland is consid-
described a proposed development plan to build a large,
ered the third most vulnerable state to rising sea levels in
multi-use resort right next to the refuge. The development
the country, behind Louisiana and Southern Florida. And
would put the marsh and the adjoining Little Blackwater
within Maryland, Dorchester County is most vulnerable.
River at the mercy of pollution from runoff, among other
Blackwater’s headquarters building sits at an elevation of
concerns. “There’s a lot of recreational use of these water-
only about three feet—and this is a spot with high-enough
ways,” Dr. Birch said. “And the community cares about
elevation to build on. When the refuge held an Earth Day
them.” Accordingly, there was a lot of debate over the
press conference to plant marsh grasses in 2005, the staff
development. In the end, the state of Maryland bought
had to use outside materials to build a site elevated enough
70 percent of the site to preserve the land, while the
to support a planting. Think of the even lower-lying areas,
remaining 30 percent will be turned into a smaller, less
and you can imagine the great impact a seemingly small
intrusive housing development.
rise in sea level could have on the refuge. Dr. Birch noted that while global warming is a problem
The local community’s concern is over more than the recreational value of the marsh. The marsh is crucial to the
we have to deal with on a global level, “sea level rise is a
health of the Chesapeake Bay, and the bay is the core of
problem we have to deal with on a local level.” Relative sea
the local economy and culture. “A lot of local people
level rise accounts for not only global sea level, but also the
depend on the wetlands because they’re fishermen, water-
resulting local sea level rise when combined with subsidence
men…all the jobs associated with that [industry],” Dr. Birch
(the gradual sinking of land).
remarked. “All those people need the wetlands, which are
Of course, sea level rise alone can’t take all the blame—it just exacerbates other forces at play. The 1940s accidental introduction of the rodent nutria from South America has www.popconnect.org
important as a buffer to protect the community of Cambridge and the surrounding communities.” The wetlands absorb up to 75 percent of excess nutrients Fall 2007 — The Reporter
nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as trap and naturally
“It’s just stunning
detoxify sediments, fecal contamination, and septic runoff, before these pollutants reach the bay. Nutrient pollution creates the dead zones that, according to an EPA report two years ago, cover close to one-third of the Chesapeake. Dead zones are just what they sound like: areas where plants and animals can no longer live. These zones occur when runoff high in nitrogen and phosphorus, usually from farms and urban developments, washes into the bay and causes an explosive
how much loss has gone on, and it’s just going to get worse and worse if we don’t do
growth of algae. With such dense blooms of algae, sunlight cannot reach the aquatic vegetation below. When the algae
something about it.”
dies and rots, it sinks to the bottom, where bacteria eat away at the decay and consume oxygen in the process, suffocating any remaining life around it. The larger the Chesapeake’s dead zone gets, the less
marsh disappear firsthand. “I can go out and look at the
marine life there is to support the ecosystem and the liveli-
water and know where marshes used to be,” Dr. Stevenson
hood of the region. Dr. Birch reminded me that Maryland is
said. “It’s just stunning how much loss has gone on, and it’s
famous for its blue crabs, and the marsh helps to keep the
just going to get worse and worse if we don’t do something
bay a place crabs can live.
Court Stevenson, a professor at Horn Point Lab of the
Dr. Stevenson reiterated the marsh’s great ecological
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science,
value. Often called “the great marsh,” people have “talked
has studied Blackwater’s ecosystem since his arrival in
about the skies being black with birds because it was so
Hooper's Island, a small fishing village south of Blackwater Refuge.
Dorchester County in 1972. Stevenson has watched the
The Reporter — Fall 2007
Rising waters flood lawns along the main road on Hooper's Island.
productive.” He explained that marshes help feed the food
Blackwater for more northern parts of the peninsula.
chain of the Chesapeake Bay. Once a nursery area for fin-
“Especially in this awareness after Hurricane Katrina,”
fish, striped bass, and crabs, the Great Blackwater Marsh
he added, “people are just giving up.” But just as global
could still play a crucial role in the development of these
climate change amplifies the many problems facing
species—if we can restore the wetlands there.
Blackwater Refuge, the global efforts of people around the
Efforts to restore the marsh have brought about an unex-
world to combat climate change amplify the local efforts of
pected partnership between the Maryland Port Authority,
people like Drs. Birch and Stevenson to save Dorchester
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations to
County and its wetlands.
literally build marshes using dredged materials from the Port of Baltimore. The Port Authority removes millions of cubic yards of sediment from Maryland’s waterways every year to keep the navigation channels clear for ships. Usually, the Port Authority dumps the waste, but now the materials could prove an invaluable resource to Maryland’s wetlands. The project won’t be easy, or cheap. A feasibility study alone would cost $5 – 6 million over three to five years, and that’s just for areas within Blackwater refuge. Some surrounding areas also need to be restored, with the entire project projected to cost more than $1 billion. But if the project succeeds, Blackwater Marsh will return to the pristine state of 1933. Whether the communities of Dorchester County will follow the path of Holland Island remains to be seen, however. Dr. Stevenson noted that many of the younger
Sources Dixie Birch, Personal interview, 6/15/07. David Fahrenthold, “Blackwater Refuge Now Nutria-Free,” The Washington Post. 11/17/04, www.washingtonpost.com. Telephone interviews with the following individuals: Court Stevenson, 6/14/07; Michael Burke, 6/27/07; Mike Tidwell, 6/26/07. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Wetlands Restoration Project,” http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/blackwater.html. NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, “Climate Change,” http://noaa.chesapeakebay.net/climatechange.aspx. Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands: What You Can Do,” http://epa.gov/climatechange. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, “DNR Answers Questions about Sea Level Rise,” www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews. Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, “Explore Blackwater!” www.friendsofblackwater.org. U.S. Water News Online, “One-third of Chesapeake was ‘dead zone,’ study shows,” August 2005, www.uswaternews.com. Holland Island Preservation Foundation, “To Save An Island,” 2/11/05 www.intercom.net/local/holland.
people have already left the neighborhoods south of www.popconnect.org
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
EXTREME WEATHER PLANTS SEEDS OF CHANGE by Carly Knoell, Stanback Grassroots Intern
eorgia farmers are suffering from an unusually
of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas, destroying
early—and lengthy—drought. Wes Harris, the
hundreds of acres of crops. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau
Extension Agent for Bulloch County, told the
reported that wheat producers had expected a productive
Statesboro Herald, “It is unusual for a drought to be so bad
harvest of 161 million bushels, but because of the storms,
during the spring.” According to John Emery Brannen,
they estimate a lost 40 million bushels. This volatility makes
whose family has farmed in Register, Georgia (pop. 164) for
it difficult for farmers to decide which crops to plant, when
five generations, it has been “the worst spring ever… It’s
to plant them, and what strategies to employ against pests
real, real, real dry.” The early drought is just one unexpect-
ed and extreme weather event caused by climate change. A
In the corn and soybean belt that runs through Kansas,
couple more years like this, and many American farmers will
Nebraska, and Iowa, crop diseases and pests have become
more aggressive. A study headed by climatologist and
Farmers are accustomed to variances in the weather, but
NASA researcher Cynthia Rosenzweig discovered that
extreme changes have brought a new unpredictability to
“altered weather patterns can increase crop vulnerabilities
farming. Relentless rains this summer have flooded parts
to infection, pest infestations, and choking weeds.” The Velvetbean Caterpillar, a major pest in the Southeast U.S., infests soybean crops in late summer, stripping fields of “soybean foliage in five to seven days,” according to a study at the University of Florida. Native to tropical and subtropical areas of the Western hemisphere, the caterpillar spends its winters in southern Florida, migrating north at the end of spring. With spring arriving earlier as a result of climate change, species like the Velvetbean Caterpillar can get an early start on infesting crops. As the Earth continues to warm and farming becomes less predictable, it may become even less capable of supporting its ever-growing population. Therefore, stabilizing world population is more imperative than ever. Women must be able to choose the number of children that they can support, to ensure the healthy lives of their families and the planet.
Farmer with soybean crops affected by drought. Photo: David Stephenson/CORBIS
The Reporter — Fall 2007
Sources Kathryn A. Barbara, “Velvet bean Caterpillar,” University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Electronic Data Information Source, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN308. David Bennet, “Global Warming and Farming,” Delta Farm Press, http://deltafarmpress.com. Holli Deal Bragg, “Crops suffering from lack of rain; farmers hoping for wet weather,” 5/4/07; “The Brannens: Farm Family of the Year,” 2/25/07, Statesboro Herald, www.statesboroherald.com. “A hopeful harvest gets rained out for most of the state,” Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Press Release issued 6/27/07, www.okfarmbureau.org. Cynthia Rosenzweig, et al., “Climate change and extreme weather events: Implications for food production, plant diseases, and pests,” Global Change & Human Health, 2001.
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING—UNFPA AND THE GLOBAL GAG RULE
Bush’s CBAE abstinence-only program. The
Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) has intro-
planning advocates will be watching closely as
duced the United Nations Women’s Health and
the bills go to conference.
Dignity Act in the House. The bill restores US
Senate version of the bill, however, cuts funding by almost exactly the same amount. Family
Both the House and Senate voted for a
funding to UNFPA, the United Nations
three-month extension of funding for Title V
Population Fund. It currently has 24 cosponsors.
(five) abstinence-only programs. The House,
The House of Representatives passed an
though, passed legislation on August 1 to
amendment to the Foreign Operations budget
make a number of important changes to the
that would slightly loosen the Global Gag
Title V state abstinence-only program. Under
Rule’s restrictions on U.S. family planning
the language that was adopted as part of the
assistance. The amendment, offered by
much larger bill expanding the State Children’s
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), exempts
Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), states will have
shipments of contraceptive supplies from the
much more ability to fund comprehensive sex
ban on assistance to groups that offer abor-
education programs. In addition, the new
tion-related counseling or services. Although
provision will require that programs receiving
the amendment survived a challenge on the
funding be medically and scientifically accurate
House floor, President Bush has threatened to
and that they be based on a model proven to
veto the bill.
be effective in reducing teen pregnancy and
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia
the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Global
Finally, it will change the status of the Title V
Democracy Promotion Act in the U.S. Senate.
program from an entitlement to one that must
Previously introduced in the House by
go through the annual appropriations
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), the GDPA
process—allowing for greater scrutiny and
would repeal the Global Gag Rule.
DOMESTIC FAMILY PLANNING FUNDING
110TH CONGRESS: LIMITED PROGRESS ON POPULATION ISSUES
The Responsible Education About Life Act (REAL) has been introduced in the House and Senate. The bill would provide federal funding
Title X family planning funding is the subject of Congressional debate, with Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) offering an amendment that
for comprehensive sex education programs. The REAL Act currently has 72 cosponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate.
would have barred Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money. The amendment was defeated 231 to 189.
Population Connection will be monitoring all of these measures when Congress returns to Washington in September. For more informa-
SEX EDUCATION AND ABSTINENCEONLY PROGRAMS The House, as part of a Health and Human Services appropriations bill, voted for nearly $28 million in increased funding for President www.popconnect.org
tion and updates on the status of these bills and other important legislation, please visit our website at www.populationconnection.org. Prepared by Stacie Murphy, Government Relations Fellow Fall 2007 — The Reporter
Field & Outreach
We Can’t Grow on Like This
The Reporter — Fall 2007
MAKING THE GLOBAL LOCAL: POPULATION CONNECTION’S
12 CITIES PROGRAM The organizers in our 12 Cities: Making the Global Local program are busy spreading the word about population and Population Connection. Here are just some of the many letters to the editor and op-eds that local papers have printed for this important campaign. It’s exciting to reach these new audiences, and tell them about the connections between women’s empowerment, the environment, and population stabilization. Look out for more activities and articles from our organizers in all 12 cities: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, California; Boulder, Colorado; Eugene, Oregon; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Northampton, Massachusetts; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington.
mean that rains will be more frequent, but that rain events will be more intense. Rains that come in September after a dry summer will not benefit suffering plants—rather, they will wash away acres of dried soil. The sub-tropics will receive less precipitation as climate change progresses. Higher temperatures and lengthier droughts have led crops to perish and soil to crack. Sub-tropic areas include most of the United States and a large portion of Asia including China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and parts of Russia. The Bodélé Depression, a large area in Chad once part of the floor of Lake Chad, resulted from depletion of the lake through drought and irrigation. The lake is currently about ten percent of its former size, with the Bodélé the source of “2 to 3 billion tons of fine soil particles that leave Africa each year in dust storms [that] are slowly draining the continent of its fertility and, hence, its biological productivity,” according to Lester Brown. “Saharan Dust storm on African plain. Photo: Gary M. Stolz
THE PARCHED EARTH
dust storms—once rare—are now commonplace” and have “increased 10-fold during the last half-century.”
Erosion. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
by Carly Knoell, Stanback Grassroots Intern
Soil erosion on agricultural lands is a global catastrophe. Loose topsoil causes dust storms and makes planting impossible. As populations grow in vulnerable settings, we will see more situations like the Dust Bowl that occurred in the United States during the Depression. “Twentieth-century population growth pushed agriculture onto highly vulnerable land in many countries,” Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, explained. “The over-plowing of the U.S. Great Plains during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries… led to the 1930’s Dust Bowl.” Soil erosion is caused by two main factors: water and wind.
Quality of life is very poor for those millions of people living in areas where the land can no longer be cultivated.
Topsoil, only inches thick, is the most important layer in agri-
Sending food to them is a short-term solution and will not
culture because it contains the nutrients crops need to survive.
fix the problem. We must fight this problem at the roots,
When topsoil is unable to recover between planting seasons,
literally and figuratively, where population growth and
nutrients are depleted and the remaining loose soil can be
climate change are intertwined.
easily blown or washed away. As food demands increase due
to population growth, overuse of productive land and poor
Brown, Lester R., “Losing Soil” Earth Policy Institute, www.earthpolicy.org; Soil and Water Conservation Society, “Conservation Implications of Climate Change: Soil Erosion and Runoff from Cropland”, January 2003, www.swcs.org; U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Society, “EarthShots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change” May 2007, http://earthshots.usgs.gov.
agricultural management become more commonplace. In tropical regions, precipitation will increase with global warming. Projections of increased precipitation do not www.popconnect.org
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~Nelson Mandela Population Connection’s Education department is changing the world one classroom at a time. PopEd lesson plans cover kindergarten to 12th grade and encompass a wide range of environmental and population topics. PopEd workshops are held across the United States. Just last year, we trained over 12,000 teachers who will, in turn, reach hundreds of thousands of students. Global Warming Begins at Home is one of our most popular middle-school activities. It teaches students a valuable lesson about the environment, and it lets teachers address both math and science requirements in their classroom. Here’s an excerpt from the lesson plan. The full lesson plan is available at www.populationeducation.org.
G L O B A L WA R M I N G B E G I N S AT H O M E INTRODUCTION: Energy made from the combustion of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to climate change. CO2 is released any time coal, oil, natural gas, or renewable resources, such as wood, are burned. In recent years, greenhouse gases have been added to the atmosphere much more rapidly than in the past, leading to an overall warming trend. Warming temperatures have far-reaching effects, including heat waves, oceans warming, coastal flooding, glaciers melting, and the bleaching of coral reefs. While climate change is a global issue, many of the causes and solutions lie in individual decisions.
STUDENT OBJECTIVES: • Solve mathematical word problems. • Collect data on personal transportation and energy use. • Describe ways to decrease CO2 emissions based on actual findings.
PROCEDURE: 1. How many miles do your family cars average per gallon of gas? _____ 2. How many miles did your family drive last year? _____ 3. How many pounds of carbon dioxide did your family produce by driving? (Each gallon of gas releases approximately 20 lbs. of CO2 into the atmosphere.) _____ 4. Take a look at a recent electricity bill and use it to estimate your yearly usage. If one pound of coal is burned for every kilowatt-hour used, how many pounds of coal did your family use to produce electricity? _____ 5. If two pounds of CO2 are produced for every pound of coal burned to produce electricity, how many pounds of carbon dioxide did your family add to the atmosphere to produce electricity last year? _____ 22
The Reporter — Fall 2007
6. Add the total amounts from questions 3 and 5 to calculate your family’s direct production of CO2: _____ Now double that figure to account for the CO2 produced indirectly (for production of consumer goods, heat and electricity for public buildings, etc.): _____ 7. How many pounds of CO2 is that altogether for your family? _____ Multiply this figure by 300 million to determine the amount if everyone in the country had emissions similar to yours: _____ To put this in perspective, worldwide releases of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion are currently 27 billion tons per year, and the world population is 6.5 billion. Experts think that stabilizing the climate will require a reduction in emissions by 50-80 percent by 2050. Our planet’s population is expected to reach 9.3 billion by then. 8. What could you do to reduce your family’s production of CO2?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: • Did any of the answers to the questions surprise you? • Based on what you know, what are your views on global Photo: Marian Starkey
climate change? • Why does there seem to be such resistance to lowering global fossil fuel emissions?
FOLLOW UP: Have students calculate the class average for CO2 production, then compare it to the previous answers, to national averages, or to the averages in other countries. What actions can the class take to reduce CO2 emissions? Sources Daniel R. Abassi, “Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action.” Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 2006. Department of Energy, “Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Program,” www.eia.doe.gov. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, “Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Generation of Electric Power in the United States.” Energy Information Administration, “Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Program.” Department of Energy: Washington, D.C. Environmental Protection Agency, http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming. Department of Energy, “World CO2 Emissions from the Consumption and Flaring of Fossil Fuels 1980-2004,” International Energy Annual 2004, www.eia.doe.gov. IPCC Working Group III Report: Mitigation of Climate Change, 2007.www.ipcc.ch Population Reference Bureau, “2006 World Population Data Sheet,” www.prb.org.
Fall 2007 — The Reporter
“Humanity causing global warming.” By Michael de Adder/artizans.com
The Reporter — Fall 2007
A comment on the world we share.
Put simply, if governments want to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent, and the world’s population rises to the mid-range forecast of 9.2 billion, each person would in fact have to slash their emissions by 72 percent. More efficient technology, renewable energy and lifestyle changes will help do that, but growing prosperity and consumption in developing countries will also make it harder. That all our low-energy light bulbs, home insulation, efficient cars, boilers and washing machines have so far failed to stop emissions growing illustrates how difficult cutting them will be to achieve. —Editorial, The Observer, March 18, 2007
Even if California achieved its 2020 goal (dubious) and the United States followed (more dubious), population and economic growth elsewhere would overwhelm any emission cuts. In 2050, global population is expected to hit 9.4 billion, up about 40 percent from today. At modest growth rates, the world economy will triple by mid-century. —Editorial, The Washington Post, July 25, 2007
Humans are taking up more and more space on this planet, using more resources, dirtying more water, fouling more air and creating more waste. While one can argue whether people are the main reason for global warming today, there is no doubt that as the world population grows, it will affect the planet in ways that are detrimental to our survival. How long can we afford to take land out of production at the same time we have more people to feed? Dealing with population growth is a long-term project that encompasses economic development, political reform and education. —Editorial, Nevada Appeal, March 4, 2007
One Way To Change The World We hope youâ€™ll consider Population Connection as you plan your estate. Your bequest gift will help change the future for people and for our planet. You can also participate with other forms of planned giving. Charitable Gift Annuities provide guaranteed life income along with significant tax advantages. If you, or your financial advisor, have any questions, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Borg, Director of Membership and Development at 800-767-1956 or 202-332-2200. If youâ€™ve already included Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in your estate plans, there is no need to change any language. We proudly maintain the name and the mission.
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Making the Population CO 2 nnection Fall 2007 VOL. 39, ISSUE 2