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The Reporter June 2010 VOL. 42, ISSUE 2

A PUBLICATION OF

POPULATION CONNECTION


from the president

hen conversation turns to

sumption along with increased popula-

tional challenge of feeding, clothing,

consumption,

evidence

tion is simply foolish. Yet even many

housing, educating, and generally pro-

abounds. From SUVs to

thoughtful people seem to avoid the

viding for those added three billion peo-

issue.

ple. In terms of raw population num-

W

McMansions, from supersized fast food to landfills chock-full of plastic detritus,

Perhaps it’s because global popula-

bers, it would be like adding another

“we have met the enemy and he is us,”

tion challenges can seem overwhelm-

North America, Central America, South

to quote the late cartoonist Walt Kelly.

ing. There is a temptation to focus on

America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

Underconsumption is, however, the

the local in our vast, unruly world of 6.8

We cannot afford to avoid the global

other half of the story. And it gets much

billion. That’s a good thing, as far as it

challenge posed by population growth

less attention. Three billion people

goes. Growing gardens, planting trees,

simply because it’s too big, too contro-

struggle to survive on less than

and reconfiguring communities to

versial, too complex. To quote an old

$2.50/day. They are simply not con-

reduce waste are all good, even essen-

recycling maxim, there is no longer an

suming enough, based on available

tial.

“away” to throw things. Nor is there an

technology, to have anything resem-

But they’re not enough. If even a

“away” to stow population challenges.

moderate fraction of the world’s popu-

Change requires action. You and I

According to Jared Diamond, author

lation succeeds in following the U.S.

know this. Our common challenge is to

of Collapse, if the entire world in 2050

consumption model, it will overwhelm

find ways to get others to pay attention,

adopted current U.S. consumption

all of our local efforts.

especially those who occupy positions

bling a decent quality of life.

habits, it would be equivalent to a pop-

This is where population growth

of leadership and respect in their com-

ulation increase from today’s 6.8 billion

comes in. According to UN population

munities and professions. A wonderful

to 72 billion. That’s not a misprint. It

projections, by 2050 the world popula-

group called InspireSeattle has a great

really would be like having 72 billion

tion

somewhere

slogan: “The world is run by those who

people on earth.

between eight and eleven billion peo-

show up.” If you’re one of those peo-

ple. The difference between those high

ple, email me at john@popconnect.org.

and low projections is three billion.

You can truly make a difference.

Now, it’s highly unlikely that the entire world will “catch up” to us in 40

will

increase

to

years. But vast numbers of people in

Three billion is the same as the total

China, India, and elsewhere are rapidly

world population in 1960. It’s equal to

adopting

consumption

the population today of the entire world

lifestyle—purchasing cars and appli-

except Asia. That’s what’s in play: about

ances

three billion.

our

and

high

consuming

increasing

amounts of meat and dairy products.

So depending on what we do or do

The failure to take into account the

not do, on what happens over the next

multiplier impacts of increased con-

40 years, our planet may face the addi-

John Seager john@popconnect.org

Need a speaker? We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to spread the message. John Seager, President of Population Connection, and other key staff are available to make the population connection to the environment, women’s rights, social justice, and other global issues. If your environmental organization, school, university, religious group, or other gathering could use a lively presentation, just email Natalie Widel at nwidel@popconnect.org or call her at 1-800-767-1956 ext. 7725.


Volume 42, Issue 2 June 2010 Cover Cartoon © Seppo Leinonen

Pg. 7

Pg. 8

Book Review: The Coming

The Snowballing Effects of Rising

Population Crash and Our

Population

Planet’s Surprising Future

By John and Mary Ellen Harte

Pg. 16 The Climate in Copenhagen: Observations on the Climate Summit By Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

By Marian Starkey

D E PA RT M E N T S

COLUMNS

2

PopPourri

18 Washington View

4

In the News

20 Field & Outreach

6

Editor’s Note

22 Pop. Ed.

24 Remark

Printed on recycled paper


The average American home swelled from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,349 square feet in 2004—a 140% increase in size. MSN Real Estate

PopPourri According to the U.S. EPA, more than 4.6 million tons of e-waste ended up in U.S. landfills in 2000. The amount of electronic products discarded globally has skyrocketed, with 20-50 million tons generated every year.

Greenpeace

It would take more than five earths to be able to sustain the world population if everyone consumed resources at the same rate as the United States. At the consumption rate of France or the United Kingdom, it would take 3.1. The numbers for other nations include 3.0 for Spain, 2.5 for Germany and 2.4 for Japan.

New Economics Foundation

2

The Reporter — June 2010


The number of motor vehicles in the U.S. has risen by 157 million since 1960, while the population of licensed drivers has grown by 109 million. In 2003, there were an estimated 1.17 motor vehicles per licensed driver, meaning that there are more vehicles than drivers in the U.S.

Federal Highway Administration

The world's richest half-billion people—that's about 7 percent of the global population—are responsible for 50 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50 percent are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions.

Carbon Mitigation Institute

Global meat consumption is expected to grow 2 percent each year until 2015, especially in developing countries where eating meat is seen as a sign of wealth and prosperity. Half of the world's pork is now eaten in China, while Brazil is the second largest consumer of beef, after the United States.

Worldwatch Institute

www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

3


In the News Pregnancy Coercion

course, compared with three days for Plan B.

Researchers at the University of California,

The drug, ulipristal acetate (brand name

Davis conducted a survey of 1,300 women,

ellaOne), has been approved in Europe but is

Executive Editor Marian Starkey

ages 16 to 29, at five reproductive health

still under FDA review in the United States.

Contributors Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, Rebecca Harrington, John Harte, Mary Ellen Harte, Stacie Murphy, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Pam Wasserman

whether rates of unintended pregnancy are

Australian Population Debate

higher among women who are in abusive

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd self-purported-

Volume 42, Issue 2 June 2010

clinics in Northern California to explore

and/or coercive relationships.

ly believes in “a big Australia,” meaning that

One in five women said they had experi-

he is in favor of massive population growth

enced pregnancy coercion and 15% had

(the current rate of growth is 2%—the high-

experienced birth control sabotage. The rate

est in the developed world). Opposition

Graphic Artist Marian Starkey

of unintended pregnancy among women

Leader Tony Abbott is against runaway

who experience coercion and partner vio-

growth and prefers to rewrite the country’s

Population Connection

lence was twice that of women who are not

immigration policy to keep the population at

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.

victims of sexual and/or physical violence.

a sustainable level.

Editor photo, page 6: © Kendra Fletcher

Australia’s population is currently 22 mil-

Birth Rates Declined in 2008 The CDC and National Center for Health

lion. Demographers project that by 2050 that number could be 36 million.

Statistics released a preliminary analysis of

“Until we address the issue of population,

2008 birth data in April. After two years of

we are fighting global warming with at least

increasing births for all age groups, in 2008

one arm tied behind our back,” lawmaker

The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071) Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037

births to all age groups—except women over

Kelvin

40—decreased. Births to teens 15-17

November.

Phone: 202-332-2200 or

decreased by 2% and births to teens 18-19

1-800-767-1956

decreased 4%. Births to Hispanic women fell

appointed the first-ever Population Minister,

Fax: 202-332-2302

to an all-time low.

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke. Mr. Burke is

Email: info@popconnect.org Website: www.popconnect.org Board Chair Dianne Dillon-Ridgley President John Seager

With a total decrease in births of 2%, the 2008 fertility rate was 2.086, down from

Thomson

told

Parliament

in

Rudd modified his position in April and

responsible for developing a population plan, including cutting skilled immigration levels.

2.123 in 2007. A fertility rate of 2.1 is required for population replacement in coun-

Scott Roeder Sentenced

tries with low infant and child mortality.

The man who killed Dr. George Tiller, one

Analysts cautiously attribute the decline to

of the only late-term abortion providers in

the poor state of the economy. Anecdotal

the country, was convicted in January of first-

evidence indicates that many couples do not

degree murder. Roeder, 51, of Kansas City,

feel financially secure enough to have a child.

Missouri, readily admitted to murdering the

New Morning After Pill

tributed programs to fellow parishioners.

doctor point-blank in his church while he dis-

A new emergency contraceptive pill from a pharmaceutical company in Paris boasts effectiveness for up to five days after inter4

The Reporter — June 2010

Roeder was sentenced in April to 50 years imprisonment.


Specific Abstinence-only Programs May Work A study of 662 African American 6th and 7th graders living in inner-city Philadelphia found that certain types of abstinence programming may work to delay sexual activity at very young ages. Two years after completing an 8-hour course on abstinence, only a third of the students had had sex. 42% of the students in the comprehensive program had become sexually active within the two years. The course did not preach abstinence until marriage or claim that sex outside of marriage is never appropriate. It also did not discredit condoms for pregnancy and STI prevention. The program was ineligible for federal abstinence-only funding, but can receive funding under the Obama Administration’s new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Cannon said that the initiative is about saving lives and that “family planning has nothing to do with it.” Two days later, the administration was singing a different tune, admitting that Cannon had misspoken and that “We are not closing the door to any option, and that includes contraception, but we do not want a debate, here or elsewhere, on abortion.” Hillary

Clinton

chided

the

Harper

Administration when she visited Ottawa in April. “You can't have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that family planning is “the first step for avoiding maternal deaths.” Preventing unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place should be the first line of attack in any plan to reduce maternal and child mor-

Plan B for Military Women The more than 350,000 military women stationed overseas can now obtain Plan B

bidity and mortality. At this stage, while birth control is on the agenda, safe abortion still is not.

emergency contraception at Department of Defense clinics. The Pentagon accepted the recommendation by the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee—a Pentagon advisory panel—to stock the drug on February 3.

“Pro-Life” Pharmacy Fails The Christian “pro-life” pharmacy that opened in Chantilly, Virginia two years ago has closed its doors. The store did not sell any birth

Harper Administration Hijinks Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will host the G8 summit in

control,

makeup,

or

tobacco.

Unsurprisingly, customers chose to take their business elsewhere, to pharmacies that could provide one-stop shopping.

June. His administration plans to introduce

The pharmacy owner said that heavy com-

there an initiative to reduce childhood and

petition was the downfall of his store and

maternal deaths in the developing world.

that other pro-life drug stores are faring bet-

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon

ter in rural areas. This is precisely the prob-

and International Co-operation Minister Bev

lem: where there is no competition, women

Oda both said when questioned that the ini-

who live near only a pro-life pharmacy have

tiative would not include birth control.

no place to purchase contraception.

www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

5


editor’s note

ur members tend to be intelligent and well-

sumers in rich countries). Or

informed, so we’re going a little highbrow with this

that 20% is due to raising

issue of The Reporter and sharing a slightly more

animal protein, which is

O

academic feature article than usual. Drs. John and Mary Ellen

becoming a more common diet staple in the developing

Harte, a biologist and zoologist, respectively, expand upon

world, especially China. So while poor people certainly have

the simple

I=PAT equation (Environmental Impact =

a right to consume more carbon than they currently do in

Population x Affluence x Technology). Using numerous

order to live decent lifestyles, we can’t deny the fact that with

examples, they illuminate the complicated relationship

an average population growth rate of 1.3% (compared with

between population growth and environmental degradation.

0.3% for developed countries), developing countries will

While we tend to think of population and resource con-

begin to contribute a much larger percentage of total emis-

sumption as impacting the environment linearly as each

sions very soon.

grows, the Hartes remind us that in nature feedbacks, syner-

Nobody [credible] is saying that we need “population con-

gies, and thresholds can cause disproportionate environmen-

trol” or that we must “slaughter millions of children” like

tal damage. These phenomena intensify the cruciality of pop-

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ/4) warned against in a recent hearing

ulation stabilization because so many consequences of

on Combating Climate Change in Africa. We are simply advo-

growth are unknown until they occur. And the faster popula-

cating that a commonly overlooked step toward climate sta-

tion grows, the faster such consequences confront us.

bilization be considered when it comes to policy formation

Broadly, in this issue we focus on consumption: the con-

and funding decisions.

sumption of natural resources, material goods, and green-

While poor people need to consume more in order to

house gas emissions. Our Board Chair, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley,

increase their quality of life, Americans and other rich world

traveled to Copenhagen for the COP15 United Nations

citizens must consume less. The Pop. Ed. column on page 22

Climate Change Conference in December 2009. She repre-

is an adaptation of an activity called “Needs vs. Wants”

sented Population Connection well at the conference, like she

which was designed to make students more conscious of their

has done so many times in her decades-long relationship with

own consumption patterns. Chances are, if we were honest

the organization.

with ourselves, most things we consume would fall into the

Population and climate can be challenging to discuss

“Wants” column.

together because of the massive inequality in per capita emis-

Just as Population Connection members tend to be at the

sions levels around the world. According to the United

top of the educational pyramid, wealthy people tend to be at

Nations Development Program (UNDP), high income OECD*

the top of the consumption pyramid. Here’s to climbing down

countries account for just 14% of the world’s population, but

a few steps and getting closer to consuming only what we

42% of total emissions. By contrast, the developing countries

need.

make up 79% of world population but contribute an equal 42% of emissions. What those rather embarrassing statistics don’t reveal though, is that 20% of the carbon emitted each year is from deforestation, which is occurring most rapidly in the developing world (albeit partially to make wood products for conMarian Starkey mstarkey@popconnect.org *Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: 30 high-income countries that work together to promote democracy and market economics

6

The Reporter — June 2010


By Marian Starkey

red Pearce is a British environmental journalist and the former news editor at New

F

Scientist. In his latest book, The Coming Population Crash and our Planet’s Surprising

Future, he describes modern demographic trends with a naively optimistic view toward the

future (which implies that the provocative title was chosen by a profit-conscious publisher). Pearce predicts that because the global fertility rate is 2.6 (still half a child above replacement level, but down from 4.9 fifty years ago), population will soon begin to shrink. This reasoning ignores the influence of population momentum (the built-in growth for a couple generations after replacement fertility is reached) and the fact that the fertility reductions that have already occurred were amongst the women who were open to family planning and easiest to reach with services. The countries that maintain high fertility are those with the most rural populations (hard to reach with family planning education and services) and those that still place a premium on large families. Fertility will only fall in those regions with strong and targeted interventions. And until global fer-

Beacon Press. 2010. Pp289. US$ 26.95. ISBN 978-0-8070-8583-7.

Book Review: The Coming Population Crash

tility falls below replacement, “depopulation” will not occur, despite his belief that those of us alive now will witness the phenomenon in our lifetimes. Like many who put all their eggs in the technology basket, Pearce believes that human ingenuity will save us from our own unsustainable growth. He contends that Malthus and Ehrlich were wrong in their forecast that millions would starve due to overpopulation. Thanks to the Green Revolution in the 1970s, millions of lives were indeed saved. But a billion people are currently starving—more people than existed on earth when Malthus made his famous prediction in 1798. And a couple billion more are malnourished—lacking essential vitamins and minerals to foster healthy brain and body development. Pearce says that if we stopped growing biofuels and eating meat, there would be plenty of food for everyone. But even if the rich were willing to give up their morning bacon, at some point we would overshoot earth’s capacity to feed a planet of vegetarians. Maybe it wouldn’t happen until we hit 15 or 20 billion, but what would happen to society and the environment in the meantime? The first half of the book is reminiscent of Matthew Connelly’s Fatal Misconception in its highly critical telling of the history of population programs. The programs conducted in the early years of USAID and UNFPA were sometimes coercive. The movement has since evolved into one promoting reproductive rights, not denying them. In fact, those who refuse family planning to the millions of women who want it are the ones now responsible for denying reproductive rights. Assigning poor, rural women around the world to a lifetime of unplanned pregnancies and inescapable poverty is hardly just. Using phrases like “baby famine,” “demographic abyss,” and “culling large numbers of people” makes Pearce sound more sensational than he really is. And reporting that demographers worry that euthanasia is the only answer to rising numbers of seniors is just plain ludicrous. It is a claim not based in reality. Perhaps another tidbit from Beacon Press. It’s hard to tease out Pearce’s thesis, other than that the demography of the world is changing and will continue to change for some time. He seems a bit schizophrenic in his stance. He supports the women of the world who have left the doldrums of constant childbearing for careers and active social lives, even if their freedom has led to lower fertility. He looks forward to a peaceful “breather” when the elderly rule the developed world for a few decades, and believes that retired people retain societal worth, even after they’ve stopped paying into social security. Meanwhile, he worries about Neo-Nazis and wolves taking over East German towns that have lost population to cities and to declining fertility. He warns that Europe should be very afraid that the rest of the continent could soon follow this demographic model. If human ingenuity led us to increase crop yields to feed millions of people in the 20th century, we are certainly capable of restructuring economies and urban plans to accommodate the new demographics of the 21st century. That might include welcoming more immigrants and delaying retirement in places like East Germany. But it by no means cultural extinction or worse. We’re not experiencing a crash, but rather, a shift, and one that we surely posess the ingenuity to accommodate. www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

7


The Snowballing Effects of Rising Population By John and Mary Ellen Harte

In Bolivia, the Cordillera Real mountain range makes up part of the Andes. Over the past 20 years, the snow on these mountains has receded considerably. Much of the brown landscape was covered in snow just five years ago. Photo: John Swaney, Photoshare

8

The Reporter — June 2010


here were already twenty or so university students crowded around the TV, craning to see

T

the electoral results flowing in on that fateful November day in 2008. But then a few more guests arrived, and as people politely jostled and made room, someone inevitably backed

into a family treasure, which then crashed to the ground and broke. Yes, this really did happen to us—but it’s actually a good allegory to the unusually important effects that even small increases in population can have on an already crowded planet. So many natural processes create linear, proportional consequences, and most people assume the same is true for the effects of our increasing population. But there are also plenty of examples of natural processes that create abrupt changes, once a threshold has been reached. The boiling point of water signals its abrupt change from liquid to gas. A magnifying glass can focus sunlight onto a piece of paper until it heats to its burning point, when it lights up in flames and quickly reduces to ashes. This would be totally unpredictable to someone ignorant of the burning threshold of paper, and of how magnifying glasses function. Similarly, our ignorance of the web of existing natural thresholds means that we cannot often predict when seemingly small increases in population will cause catastrophic environmental changes, or set the trigger for such catastrophes through the unconscious crossing of natural thresholds. Given this, how DOES current population growth create environmental effects well beyond expected changes? A little context is needed here. For the past several centuries, humanity has been polluting air and water, altering Earth’s climate, eliminating the habitat of plants and animals, and depleting the natural bank account of nonrenewable resources. Further, we are decreasing the capacity of natural ecosystems to regenerate or maintain renewable resources and “ecosystem services,” such as providing clean air, water, fertile soil, flood control, an adequate climate, and the conservation of biological diversity. This is the environment in which our planetary population continues to grow. The links between human activity and environmental degradation are myriad. But the human factors that contribute to environmental destruction can be grouped into three useful categories: population size (P), the individual rate of energy and material consumption that contribute to our affluence (A), and the impacts stemming from technologies (T), used to fuel that individual consumption rate. Their environmental impact (I) is often expressed as I=PAT. Although a useful reminder that population, affluence and technology contribute environmental impacts, if taken too literally, the I=PAT equation can feed the illusion that, with affluence and technology remaining unchanged, proportional or linear increases in population cause proportional or linear environmental impacts. But this ignores a host of threshold effects, synergies, feedbacks, and other nonlinear phenomena that can amplify the environmental impact of human numbers. In reality, population size plays a much more dynamic and complex role in shaping environmental quality. A threshold is a phenomenon in which a small stress to a system generates little or no impact, but when the stress exceeds a certain (threshold) level, the impact increases dramatically. The response of surface waters to acid rain is an environmental example. Below the threshold, water alkalinity prevents lake acidification. But just beyond a threshold—where all the alkalinity has www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

9


been used up, buffering previous acidic additions—the water acidity increases dramatically. Thus, quite suddenly, lakes can acidify, losing their ability to sustain life after a small addition of acid rain. But the story gets much more complex. Fossil fuel combustion produces the acidity, so some urge that we switch to clean renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. But the limited availability of easily accessible clean energy creates an availability threshold. The faster population increases, the more quickly this threshold is reached, beyond which the population must increase its use of fossil fuels. In I=PAT terms, T (technologies) temporarily change as solar and wind sources replace some of the fossil fuel combustion. But the simultaneous increase in P (population size) quickly reaches the limits of new available technology, forcing a change back to fossil fuels. The real point is that P forces a change in T, so P is not a simple multiplier, but affects other multipliers as well. Thresholds abound in nature. In Amazonia, where roughly a quarter of the rainforest has been destroyed, numerous species have gone extinct because their habitat became either too small or too fragmented to sustain them, or was initially so small and unique that it disappeared entirely. In both cases, thresholds were crossed. Virtually all ecological models predict that the rate of species extinction will increase faster than the incremental spatial loss of habitat. A threshold relationship also characterizes the epidemic spread of viruses in a dense population, be it human, animal, or plant monocultures, i.e., crops. The innate complexity of a system can sometimes make it impossible to predict a threshold. For example, it is difficult to predict what level of global heating will cause Greenlandic and Antarctic ice to greatly accelerate their melting, resulting in a rapid, dangerous rise in sea level. We know the threshold exists, however, even if we can’t predict it. Synergy occurs when the combined effect of two causes is greater than the sum of the effects of each cause acting separately from each other. Clearly, if two environmental stresses act synergistically AND each stress grows proportionately with population size, then the combined effect of both may grow faster with population size than just linearly. Imagine you are in a room with two doors allowing escape, and a poisonous gas is released into the room. If one door is locked, your escape out the other door may be delayed but you get out. Similarly, if it is only the second door that is locked, your delayed escape through the first is likely. But when both are locked, you are trapped. Something similar can happen in the biosphere when stresses act in concert. Here’s an example. Consider the separate and combined effects on biodiversity of climate change induced by fossil fuel burning, and land use practices leading to loss or fragmentation of forest habitat. Forest loss can force species to find adjacent intact forest habitat. Climate change can force species to migrate to cooler latitudes, or uphill to find suitable climate habitat. When the two stresses act together, the effect is worse than the sum of the effects of each stress acting separately, because migration can be impeded by habitat destruction. But again, the problem is more complex. Deforestation can contribute to the problem of acid rain. In Africa, nitric acid is formed from burning vegetation. Our forest species, weakened by either a lack or degradation of suitable environment, becomes more vulnerable to other threats. For example, fish weakened by radiation have been shown to be more easily damaged by ther10

The Reporter — June 2010


mal pollution than are healthy fish, and trees subjected to some air pollutants become more susceptible to insect damage. We noted above that a habitat can become too small or fragmented to sustain a species, but this is worsened disproportionately by an increase in human population size. How? Consider a tale of three cities, which, with rising populations, become six. The original three

Human and traffic congestion in Lagos, Nigeria. The population continues to grow quickly despite the city's very slow infrastructure development. Photo: Kunle Ajayi/Daily Independent, Photoshare

were connected by three avenues of highways and transmission line rights-of-way, which are barriers to wildlife movement, death traps for some species, and opportunities for invasive species (that may displace native species) to spread. These avenues also fragmented the habitat into two pieces: inside and outside the triangle. With six cities, fifteen avenues now connect them, implywww.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

11


Farmers plant rice saplings in a field at Ankuti village in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, India. Photo: Rajib Singha, Photoshare

ing a fivefold increase in these harmful stresses on plants and animals, and the habitat is further fragmented into seventeen pieces: sixteen within the network of avenues, and the habitat outside it. While this is only a schematic, it does illustrate how the web of infrastructural interconnections in human society, which also becomes increasingly dense as population grows, can result in synergistic land-use effects that damage biodiversity. Another process that results in nonlinear amplification—feedback—occurs when a process results in changes that, in turn, affect the rate of the original process. It adds indirectly to the direct factors already driving the process. Feedbacks are abundant in the natural world and occur at all levels of complexity, from the global climate system and ecosystems to the genome of a cell.

12

The Reporter — June 2010


Global warming is a good illustration of feedbacks at work. The buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a direct cause of increased surface temperature, due to the extra heatabsorbing capacity of these gases. As models consistently show, this direct effect is roughly 2° Fahrenheit for a doubling of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. But this direct effect also triggers feedbacks. As ice and snow melt away under global warming, there are fewer white surfaces that reflect sunlight back to space. Without that reflective covering, more sunlight is absorbed by Earth’s surface, heating it and accelerating global warming. This reinforcing effect is called a positive feedback. Positive feedbacks reinforcing existing environmental problems are prevalent and of increasing concern. In some ecological processes, global warming feedbacks grow with human population size. For example, in a warmer climate, people may rely more on air conditioning, thereby burning more fossil fuels and emitting more carbon dioxide, causing a positive feedback. As warming creates drier conditions, wildfires will increase in frequency and intensity. Wildfires, in turn, release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, creating yet another positive feedback on global warming. There are several global warming feedbacks amplified by population that occur from agriculture. Warming is also likely to accelerate the decomposition of soil organic matter, particularly in tilled, fertilized, and irrigated soils. That decomposition in turn, will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Because the total area of cultivated land increases with population size, population growth affects the intensity of this positive feedback. Hotter temperatures and increasing drought frequency and intensity from global warming increase the need for irrigation. Simultaneously, population growth increases global warming and the amount of land and water needed to grow food. As a result, we will be forced into more energy-intensive technologies to obtain water and maintain our level of affluence, accelerating our emissions of carbon dioxide and, thus, global warming. Beyond thresholds, synergies, and feedbacks, there is an assortment of other reasons for why population growth can have outsized effects on the environment. One is the “low-hanging fruit” phenomenon: just as low-hanging fruit gets picked first, human societies tend to use the most fertile soil, the cleanest water, and the least polluting fossil fuels first. As we use up these desirable resources, our options are increasingly limited to second-rate resources. Another phenomenon is the exhaustion of natural processes that act as “sinks” for our pollutants. Each year, oceans and forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, alleviating somewhat the problem of global warming. Currently, these ecosystems absorb about a third of this gas produced by humans, with a little over half going into the oceans. Because these carbon sinks have limits, they are nonrenewable resources, and can overflow if too much is put into them too fast. In fact, careful measurements show that oceans are slowing in their absorption of carbon dioxide. The faster our population increases, the sooner we use up these resources, and thus, the greater the impacts of global warming on our environment. Similarly, when we deplete natural sources of clean water, either in aquifers or surface streams, we must turn to new technologies for water, and many of these, such as dams and desalinization, carry environmental costs. Let’s return to I=PAT and the global warming effect on irrigation. We described above how www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

13


increasing population size (P) will force us to use new technologies (T) to get more irrigation water to grow the food that, in turn, maintains our affluence (A). T can be considered a function of P, and vice versa. These two drivers cannot be disentangled. When A and T are fixed, however, it’s not just the magnitude of environmental impacts, I, that increases disproportionately with P, a point made when we first described I=PAT. Our efforts to solve social problems, such as environmental injustice arising from inequitable distribution of impacts and of resources across income, cultural and racial groups, are hindered by rapidly growing numbers. High rates of population growth make it more difficult to ensure adequate schooling, material resources, and civic order, thereby worsening social conditions. These effects form the subtext of everyday news. A recent New York Times article on abuse of servants in Pakistan, for example, observed that the country’s population is growing far faster than its economy, creating more poverty that forces many to become miserable, slave-like servants. In a pernicious feedback, these social problems make it more difficult to solve environmental problems. For example, in an equitable society with only small income disparities, a carbon tax to discourage fossil fuel consumption would make a great deal of sense. The tax burden would be distributed evenly, unlike in an inequitable society, where the poor spend a larger fraction of their income on fuel than do the rich. So, in an equitable society the carbon tax would not exacerbate inequality, but in an inequitable society it would. Thus, the population trap catches us twice, environmentally and socially. Growing populations exacerbate social problems, and growing social problems frustrate efforts to solve environmental problems. Unsolved environmental problems further worsen injustice and inequity. What results is an intensifying downward spiral. To counter this, we must develop solutions that also work nonlinearly and simultaneously for both society and the natural environment across all nations to bring our global population to a sustainable size. Micro-loan programs in developing countries are an example of nonlinear social programs that already exist. So are female education programs, family planning programs, and programs that promote the economies of communities linked to the conservation of valuable natural resources and ecosystems. We must also develop new perspectives. Effective family planning policies, for example, should be considered and valued as an avenue of environmental solutions. For example, a country could be awarded carbon credits, in exchange for enacting family planning policies that are demonstrated to be effective, such as increasing the availability of condoms. No nation can be excluded from family planning, because both rich and poor nations contribute to environmental problems that decrease the sustainability of humans on Earth. Rich nations fuel environmental problems through rampant consumerism. Poor nations do so through the degrading exploitation of forests and other valuable natural resources as short-term answers to the demands of unsustainable and expanding populations. Currently, no nation is free of increasing environmental degradation, which means that no nation has a sustainable population. The picture painted here is a growing global population that both worsens social conditions and degrades our environment at rates rapidly accelerating faster than population growth, due to a variety of nonlinear effects. Our ultimate renewable resource is the creativity and determination to develop appropriate and just solutions. 14

The Reporter — June 2010


John Harte is Professor of Ecosystem Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, with degrees from Harvard and the University of Wisconsin. An elected Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, he has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees and has authored over 190 scientific publications, including seven books. One, Consider a Spherical Cow, is a widely used textbook on environ-

A farmer in Tibati, Cameroon, burns brush to clear land for agriculture. Photo: Ted Alcorn, Photoshare

mental modeling.

Mary Ellen ("Mel") Harte, a zoologist, recently co-authored with John Harte the book Cool the Earth, Save the Economy, available only as a free download at www.CoolTheEarth.US. It is a layman's guide on climate change, its consequences, and solutions. This subject is also the focus of the “Climate Change Report” podcasts, a series of 90-second reports produced by her and updated weekly at www.CoolTheEarth.US/climate-report.php www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

15


The Climate in Copenhagen: Observations on the Climate Summit

16

gley, Dillon -Rid e n n ia D By air ectors, Ch ir D f o rd a Bo

Stalemate or Starting Point?

the alternative conference Klimaforum

December 17, 2009

’09. There are discussions and debates

By the time you read this, the out-

by activists, scientists, political figures,

come of “COP15” will already be histo-

youth, indigenous people, and film-

ry, but right now an unusually heavy

makers. In total, about 27,000 people

early snow is falling in Denmark’s capi-

have descended on Copenhagen for

tal as we anxiously await the outcome

the Climate Summit. This conference is

of the next 48 hours. The text of the

on a scale not seen since the Earth

Copenhagen agreement is uncertain.

Summit nearly two decades ago.

The weather is a teeth-chattering 20ºF,

A major shift from the global UN

which was especially hard on the hun-

meetings in the 1990s and the World

dreds of folks who stood in line from

Trade Organization Conference in

7:00 am until past 4:00 pm only to be

Seattle is the inclusion of the grassroots

denied entry and sent away with no

and “grasstops.” Delegations are being

explanation or recourse. Most of those

led by Kenyan Nobel Laureate Wangari

subjected to the long lines and terse

Maathai; former Irish President Mary

treatment were activists, academicians,

Robinson; former Norwegian Prime

NGO workers, and members of civil

Minister Gro Brundtland; Canadian

society. On Monday and Tuesday,

writer Naomi Klein; English filmmaker

In early December I went to the UK to

members of the media and even some

Jobeda Ali; and American sustainability

film several segments for The Road To

government delegates—two groups

author and visionary Hunter Lovins.

Ecotopia. I was in London, at Grosvenor

completely unaccustomed to second-

Yes, all named in that list are women.

Square, standing in front of the U.S.

class treatment—were forced to queue

The number of women participating in

Embassy, when over 20,000 people

up for hours.

and leading their government delega-

from all walks of life gathered in

Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, I

London—young adults, grandparents,

have participated in dozens of UN

and children in strollers, many with

meetings and negotiations, often as

So much interest, so much change, so

their faces painted blue and lunches

part of the U.S. government delegation,

very much at stake. With China replac-

packed for their “climate outing.”

and sometimes even as chair at the

ing the U.S. as the world’s number one

Nothing was burned in effigy. In fact,

request of the UN or other govern-

greenhouse gas emitter, we need a

tions at COP15 is a significant departure from past conferences.

there was a rousing round of applause

ments. COP15 is in the same facility

comprehensive operating international

when it was announced that President

where thousands of people gathered

agreement now more than ever.

Obama had just changed his plans to

for the Summit for Social Development

The snow is falling, the clock is tick-

attend the high-level segment of the

in 1995, yet this time there are many

ing, and people are in small clusters

Climate Summit. But the leader of the

thousands more participants.

huddled in muted tones. The fate of so

gathering quickly added, in fact plead-

The city of Copenhagen is consumed

many will be decided in these next few

ed with the Administration to demon-

with “the conference.” Banners and

hours—people who know nothing of

strate the leadership, courage, and

billboards have been changed from

these negotiations, but whose crops

hope that the world community had so

Copenhagen to HOPENHAGEN. There

and jobs, lives and futures will be forev-

eagerly placed in his presidency.

are demonstrations in the streets and at

er affected.

The Reporter — June 2010


Aftermath, May 2010

available? Will we go for-

We came away from

ward with the off-shore

Copenhagen with a mod-

wind

est agreement, shy of the

Northeast? Will we pro-

major

charge

farm

in

the

for

tect our rivers and streams

COP15—to replace the

from the misuse as dump-

Kyoto

which

ing ground for “mine fill”?

expires in 2012 and never

Will the BP oil spill in the

included the developing

Gulf of Mexico harm liveli-

countries in the first place.

hoods, marshland habi-

Following the impressive

tats, and seafood stocks

manner in which Obama

for years to come? Will

salvaged the meeting—

the winds change and

Protocol,

negotiating an agreement with China, Brazil, India, and

South

From left: Dianne Dillon-Ridgley; Gro Brundtland, former PM of Norway; Daniel Magraw, President of The Center for International Environmental Law.

Africa—UN

send the spill toward Cancun and give the delegates at COP16 a preview

must remove our blinders for it is in the

of the future? Will we as a public final-

embraced the excitement and momen-

connections

ly begin to put all these pieces together

tum from Copenhagen and is working

progress.” She addressed the perils of

to understand that we must have a

toward ensuring that COP16 in Cancun

the consumptive lifestyle and of social

comprehensive energy strategy in the

fulfills the still-looming task of replacing

exclusion. She also said that climate

U.S. as part of our response to climate

the Kyoto Protocol.

change requires much more than just a

change and our shift from fossil fuels?

Secretary

General

Ban

Ki-moon

During COP15, the UN Foundation

that

we

will

make

technology fix.

hosted a breakfast session for the release of the UNFPA report “Facing a

But most of all, will we work to make sure that U.S. policy plus our individual

The Task Before Us

actions make a future for our children,

Whether we look at these challenges

grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Bob

with “climate eyes,” “justice eyes,” or

that is safe, abundant, and environ-

Engelman of the Worldwatch Institute.

“development eyes,” the past twenty-

mentally healthy? Will we make the

I was invited to give comments in the

five years have taught us how interde-

serious

context of population growth. I sat with

pendent and intertwined these issues

between climate change, population

former PM Gro Harlem Brundtland, a

are and that the solutions must be too.

growth and social justice?

Changing World: Women, Population and

Climate,”

authored

by

physician and critical voice on popula-

What will happen in the U.S. Senate?

tion issues for the past twenty-five

Will Cap and Dividend replace Cap and

years. She has long been one of my

Trade? Will we shift to an “energy

“she-roes.” Her wise words to the

only” bill? Will we as a country respect

group were solid counsel for elected

miners and demand real reform for coal

officials and decision makers every-

mines, making the connection between

where. “We must invest in families, in

our electricity and its sourcing? Will we

people and their needs, in men, women

invest in a domestic wind industry at

and children in whole communities. We

the capacity of the wind resource that is

www.popconnect.org

and

complex

connections

The future depends on us.

June 2010 — The Reporter

17


Washington View

White House Signals Support for Family Planning Funding Encouraging acts by Congress and the Obama Administration Stacie Murphy, Policy Associate t’s been a busy few months on Capitol Hill,

The only disappointment in the internation-

with both funding discussions and policy

al family planning budget is its decrease in

changes underway. We expect the pace to

funding for the United Nations Population

slow as the November elections draw closer, but

Fund (UNFPA) from $55 million in FY 2010 to

for now, here are the highlights of what’s going

only $50 million in FY 2011. UNFPA provides

I

on in the nation’s capital.

essential services to women around the world, and deserves the highest levels of U.S. sup-

The Federal Budget: Identifying Priorities in a

port. However, this cut, though frustrating,

Difficult Climate

does not appear to be a signal of a policy shift

President Obama released the details of his

18

The Reporter — June 2010

by the Administration, but rather a response

requested budget for Fiscal Year 2011 in early

to

February, and the news was almost universal-

Nevertheless, we will encourage Congress to

ly positive for family planning advocates.

reconsider the amount.

the

current

economic

situation.

Despite a difficult economic climate, nearly all

In his domestic budget proposal, President

the programs we monitor received increases—

Obama again demonstrated his support for

in some cases significant.

comprehensive approaches to addressing teen

We are extremely pleased with the

pregnancy. His Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Administration’s budget request for interna-

Initiative received a $19 million increase from

tional family planning—nearly $716 million.

last year, to more than $133.6 million. The

That represents a $67 million increase over

funding will be available to public and private

the previous year’s enacted level of $648.5

entities to fund medically accurate and age

million, and a $252 million (or 54%) increase

appropriate programs that reduce teen preg-

over the final budget approved under the

nancy. The majority of the funding will go to

Bush Administration. We know that to meet

programs that have already met criteria for

our obligations to women and families in the

effectiveness and medical accuracy, with a

developing world, the United States must

smaller portion of the funds set aside for “new

invest $1 billion in family planning programs.

and promising approaches.” The budget also

We aren’t there yet, and we will be pushing

provides $4.5 million to carry out evaluations

Congress to move us closer when they begin

of new teen pregnancy prevention approach-

considering their budget bills. President

es at the Department of Health and Human

Obama’s request, however, is a signal that he

Services. This new emphasis on testing and

understands how important access to family

evaluation of programs should give policy-

planning is, and that his commitment to these

makers more tools and information about

programs is real.

what kinds of interventions really work.


The budget also included a $10 million

executive order re-stating that current abor-

increase for Title X, the nation’s family plan-

tion funding restrictions would also apply to

ning program for low income American

the healthcare reform bill. While it is galling

women. While welcome, the program’s new

that a pro-choice president was forced to sign

budget of just over $327 million is inadequate

such an order, choice advocates can at least

to meet the needs of the many women it

be reassured that there are no new restrictions

serves, especially given the fact that the need

in the bill.

grows during times of economic trouble. We

One additional frustration with the new law

will work with Congress to create a budget

is a provision that reinstates funding for Title

that does more to help low income women

V, a restrictive abstinence-only program which

avoid unintended pregnancy.

had been allowed to lapse several months prior. The program has been reauthorized at

Health Care Reform: Triumph and Frustration

$50 million per year. We believe that due to

After a year of loud and sometimes nasty

the structure of the program, this funding will

debate, Congress finally passed health care

be less attractive than that offered through

reform. On March 23, 2010, President

the President’s comprehensive program, and

Obama signed the Patient Protection and

we hope that Title V may be defunded in the

Affordable Care Act into law. The new law

coming months.

contains several helpful provisions, but there is also some room for improvement.

Opportunities Ahead

We are pleased that the new law includes

On March 18, 2010, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-

the Medicaid Family Planning State Option.

NY/18) introduced the Global Democracy

This allows state governments to cover family

Promotion Act (GDPA) in the House. This bill

planning services for more low-income

would bar a future president from unilaterally

women under Medicaid. Previous guidelines

re-imposing the notorious Global Gag Rule.

required states to apply for a federal waiver

The companion bill in the Senate was intro-

before offering such expanded coverage. The

duced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in early

initial

subsequent

2009. Passing the language of the GDPA

renewals were time consuming and diverted

would end the political football game that has

resources away from services.

so often hindered organizations working in

waiver

process

and

The inclusion of the State Option in the

developing countries from being able to pro-

reform bill removes a needless bureaucratic

vide the information and services their clients

hurdle, saves money, and enables low income

need. We will be working hard to get the bill

women to access needed healthcare.

approved this year.

Questions about abortion coverage in the

As fall nears, members will turn their atten-

bill were responsible for much of the delay

tion to the November elections. It is going to

and uncertainty around the measure. Finally,

be increasingly important to make as much

Congress and the Administration reached an

progress as possible on our issue while we still

acceptable compromise. To reassure pro-life

have the opportunity and the momentum. To

Democrats that no federal funds would go to

stay informed on how you can help, please

abortion services, President Obama signed an

visit www.populationconnection.org.

www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

19


Field & Outreach

We Can’t Grow on Like This

Capitol Hill Days 2010 Changing family planning policy one congressional office at a time Rebecca Harrington, National Field Coordinator

n the words of Frances Kissling, becoming

the

a mother should be “a conscious act, not

Community College, Abbie became inspired

a reflexive one.” She also says that “many

to do social justice work. However, she lacked

people might not think of taking birth control

grassroots and lobbying experience. Abbie

as planning their family, but they are plan-

attended Capitol Hill Days to build skills for

ning—not to have a family.” These thoughts

her future humanitarian endeavors.

I

Texas

and

Austin

Abbie described the conference, and espe-

Choice underscore the focus of this year’s

cially her lobby meetings, as “an amazing

Capitol Hill Days program: that the ability to

experience” and hopes to attend again next

choose if and when to have children through

year. She wrote in her application, “I am a

quality, affordable family planning services

Hispanic woman with a young teenage

should be universal for all women.

daughter and strongly believe that access to

Capitol Hill Days 2010 was an inspiring

family planning, affordable birth control, and

event that brought together fifty Population

education is a fundamental right of every

Connection members, students, and activists

woman in every part of the world. As my own

from around the country. With participants

daughter dreams of a college education and

from Washington State to Arizona, Texas to

traveling the world, [I want to be sure that]

Michigan, and Vermont to Virginia, there was

access to birth control and information is

representation from almost every region in

available to my daughter to ensure that she

the U.S. Participants included lifelong popula-

achieves her goals. I believe every daughter in

tion and environmental activists, students

the world should have the same opportunity.” Maura

Rendes,

a

junior

at

Seattle

women’s rights, and those eager to learn

University, is a Sullivan Leader—a peer lead-

valuable advocacy skills.

ership position awarded to students with high

One of these participants was Abbie

The Reporter — June 2010

of

from the former president of Catholics for

with a passion for improved public health and

20

University

levels of academic achievement and a com-

Navarette, a student at Austin Community

mitment to community involvement and

College, who attended the program with her

social justice. A thoughtful student with a

son, Michael Rivas. One of the most enthusi-

passion for environmental and health care

astic participants, Abbie embraced the week-

issues, she attended Capitol Hill Days in 2009

end to the fullest, asking questions, volun-

with a group of peers. She enjoyed the expe-

teering during the interactive advocacy train-

rience so much that she applied again for this

ing, and exploring D.C. during her free time.

year’s program, and promoted the event to

Through her work on the Free Minds Project,

other Sullivan Leaders, as well as to the cam-

a humanities education partnership between

pus Young Democrats. In total, twelve Seattle


University students attended the conference, forming our largest delegation. The consequences of population growth were clearly articulated by the featured speakers, who connected the issue to their various areas of expertise. Dr. Willie Parker, Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington, provided a useful framework for discussing population and family planning. He stressed the importance of perception, and reminded us that “what you say is not always what people hear.” This notion is particularly resonant for the population

the political process that develops sound fam-

movement, as even the word “population”

ily planning policy.

can trigger negative reactions from those

The informational and advocacy training

who assume it is code for support of coercive

sessions throughout the weekend prepared

policies driven by quotas and a disregard for

the attendees for their lobby meetings. On

human rights.

Monday and Tuesday, our newly trained

Dennis Dimick of National Geographic

advocates descended upon 42 House and

described the developed world’s overdepen-

Senate offices to lobby for two bills. They

dence on carbon and the discrepancy

asked members to cosponsor a request for $1

between energy “want and need” through a

billion in international family planning aid,

stunning slideshow. Janet Larsen of the Earth

which is the cornerstone of our Double the

Policy Institute shared her vast knowledge

Money campaign. They also asked their rep-

about food and water security, and spoke of

resentatives

how rapid population growth has made it

Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA), which is a

increasingly difficult to guarantee either.

policy that would permanently ban the

Maurice Middleberg of the Global Health

Global Gag Rule.

to

cosponsor

the

Global

Council explained that addressing current

Participants were enthusiastic as they filed

unmet need for family planning would drasti-

in and out of their meetings, excited about

cally reduce maternal and child mortality,

the opportunity to put their new skills to

which would subsequently reduce birth rates,

good use. All of the participants left their

as birth rates tend to decrease when the child

meetings energized and feeling as though

mortality rate drops below 10%.

they’d had a meaningful experience—even

Cate Lane of Pathfinder International and

those who were apprehensive prior to the

Kirsten Sherk of Ipas enthusiastically shared

meetings. As a testament to their good work,

the details of the innovative community out-

since Capitol Hill Days ended, five of the rep-

reach programs their organizations use to

resentatives we lobbied have signed onto the

provide comprehensive reproductive health

House version of the GDPA as cosponsors

services. Population Connection staff mem-

and three senators have become cosponsors

bers Brian Dixon and Stacie Murphy spoke of

of the Senate bill.

www.popconnect.org

Washington State residents discuss a plan for meeting with their members of Congress.

June 2010 — The Reporter

21


PopEd

“Needs vs. Wants” This activity teaches students to identify what is essential for survival and what they could give up in order to promote resource equality Pam Wasserman, Vice President for Education n this teaching activity for grades 6-12

3. Students can work individually or in small

(excerpted from our new CD-ROM, Earth

groups. Instruct them to fold a piece of paper

Matters: Studies for Our Global Future,

lengthwise down the middle and label the left

edition, 2009), students differentiate

side “Needs” and right side “Wants.”

I

3

rd

necessities from luxuries in order to consider resource consumption in our society.

4. On the left side, ask them to list the basic needs of every human being: water, food,

Introduction:

clothing, shelter, etc. Have them draw a line

We live in a culture that emphasizes abun-

at the bottom of this list and add “secondary

dance. Students are constantly bombarded

needs”—items that they deem necessary

with messages that tell them to want and

within our culture (e.g. computer, means of

seek more material satisfaction. In such an

transportation, etc.).

environment, it can be difficult to appreciate what they already have, much less under-

5. On the right, ask them to list the things

stand what it means to live with less. In this

they need or want for their own lifestyles:

activity, students clarify the difference

large-screen TV, MP3 player, video game sys-

between needs and wants, reevaluate their

tem, car, fast food, movies, hot water, etc.

consumption patterns, and determine what

Give the students enough time to write 10-

they would be willing to sacrifice to accom-

15 items.

modate others. 6. Next to each item, have students name Procedure:

some of the resources or products needed to

1. The night before class, fill a large plastic

produce, use, and maintain these things: oil

bag with assorted household items such as

(for plastic and fuel), electricity, iron, alu-

newspapers, make-up, deodorant, pencils,

minum, pesticides, grain, water, etc. You may

forks, Tylenol, tissues, cheap jewelry, combs,

want to go through some examples of prod-

paper, plastic cups, CDs, air freshener, etc.

ucts we use regularly and the resources they are made of or use to operate, to get students

2. In class, draw the items out of the bag one

started.

by one and ask the students if they are needs or wants. They should easily be able to cor-

7. Ask the class which items they placed as

rectly identify most of them as wants,

needs or secondary needs as opposed to

although some items may draw some dis-

wants. What distinguishes the latter two cat-

agreement.

egories? Why do they feel some of these Above image © Keith Bell, Dreamstime.com

22

The Reporter — June 2010


items are needed in our lives, but not necessary for all humans? Would people in other

Needs

Wants

cultures consider these secondary needs as needs or wants? This is likely to provoke discussion as students disagree over whether

Food

certain items are essential or not in our lives. 8. Now, explain to students that of the near-

Water

ly seven billion people on the planet, only

MP3 player (oil for plastic, water, electricity, steel) TV (metal, oil for plastic, electricity, glass)

about one billion live a similar lifestyle to their own. Another billion live in abject poverty (on

Shelter

about $1 per day), and most of the world's

Fast food hamburger (grain, water, pesticides, oil, fertilizer, beef)

people aspire to improve their lifestyles, requiring a greater use of natural resources.

Clothing

Hot water (water, oil or gas, . . .)

The Earth is a finite system and there simply aren't enough natural resources in the world for all of the world’s people to live as we live

Secondary Needs

in the United States (e.g. three cars for every four people, a diet rich in animal products, etc.). So, raising the standard of living for most of the world’s people may require a

Car? Computer? Bike? Household appliances?

reduction in resource use by the inhabitants of the world’s richest countries. 9. Now ask students to select three items on

2. Do you think that most North Americans

the right side of their charts that they would

would be willing to lower their consumption

be willing to give up so that people who cur-

level to help others in developing countries?

rently lack the basic necessities (listed on the

Why or why not?

left) can thrive. Have them cross those items off their lists.

3. Are there any alter-

10. Tell the students to select an additional

those items on your

three items. Have them cross those items off

list? What are they?

© David Smith, Dreamstime.com

natives to giving up

their lists. Continue to have students cross out items until they only have a few left.

4. How do you think that giving up these

Discussion Questions:

items on your list would

1. Which were the first items deleted from

affect your happiness?

your list? What did you elect to keep? What

What makes you the

criteria did you use to make these deletions or

happiest? What do you

choose what to save?

most enjoy doing?

www.popconnect.org

June 2010 — The Reporter

23


Remark

Used with the permission of Signe Wilkinson and the Washington Post Writers Group in conjunction with the Cartoonist Group. All rights reserved.

24

The Reporter — June 2010


Nairobi, Kenya

Calgary, Canada

The National Coordinating Agency for Population

The Harper government should include contracep-

and Development says the population is estimated at

tion among its maternal and child health measures at

39 million this year and will hit 71.5 million within

this June's G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont. Leaving it

two decades.

out would be tantamount to ignoring the serious

The agency provides data indicating that we got here partially because of neglecting family planning programs that had served the country well in the 1980s.

challenge from population growth which the developing world faces. According to the United Nations, 99 per cent of world population growth to 2050 will be in the

Countries that maintained the family planning

developing world, the area least equipped to deal

momentum such as Botswana, Morocco, and

with the strains such an expansion will put on infra-

Namibia are today enjoying low population growth

structure, basic services and resources.

rates and higher social development indicators.

Reducing family size brings enormous benefits.

Several studies show that almost a quarter of all

Parents with fewer children have more time, ener-

married women would like to delay their next preg-

gy and resources to devote to their offspring and

nancy or not carry any at all.

place less of a burden on health services.

Unfortunately, their needs are not met because of poorly funded and low key family planning programs characterized by frequent product stock-outs.

Third World parents are not unwilling to be educated about family planning. Contraceptive knowledge is essential to maternal

A higher investment today in effectively helping

health. The Canadian government would not shy

families attain their desired sizes could make a signif-

away from providing Canadian women with infor-

icant impact in the attainment of the Vision 2030

mation that would improve their health; it should do

and the Millennium Development Goals.

no less for the women of the Third World.

—Editorial Excerpt, April 11, 2010

—Editorial Excerpt, March 28, 2010


Population Connection

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One Way to Change the World We hope you’ll consider Population Connection as you plan your estate. You can also participate in 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 Natalie Widel, Development Associate, at 800-767-1956 or 202-332-2200.

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June 2010  

Consumption

June 2010  

Consumption

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