7. Can We Limit Human Population Growth?

2009 November 14. Broaching Birth Control With Afghan Mullahs. By Sabrina Tavernise, The NY Times. Excerpt: MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — The mullahs stared silently at the screen. They shifted in their chairs and fiddled with pencils. Koranic verses flashed above them, but the topic was something that made everybody a little uncomfortable.
...It was a seminar on birth control, a likely subject for a nation whose fertility rate of 6 children per woman is the highest in Asia. But the audience was unusual: 10 Islamic religious leaders from this city and its suburbs, wearing turbans and sipping tea.
...Nothing in Islam expressly forbids birth control. But it does emphasize procreation, and mullahs, like leaders of other faiths, consider children to be blessings from God, and are usually the most determined opponents of having fewer of them.
It is an attitude that Afghanistan can no longer afford, in the view of the employees of the nonprofit group that runs the seminars, Marie Stopes International. The high birthrate places a heavy weight on a society where average per capita earnings are about $700 a year. It is also a risk to mothers. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in maternal mortality rates, which run as high as 8 percent in some areas....

2008 March. Family Planning and Access to Safe and Legal Abortion are Vital to Safeguard the Environment. By Joseph Speidel, M.D. and Richard Grossman, M.D. Contraception, Volume 76 Issue 6 - December 2007 - pages 415-417 Speidel, et al, Reprinted in The Reporter (Population Connection). Excerpt: ...One valid way of quantifying our use of resources is by calculating our ecological footprint* (EF). This concept is based on the understanding that all human activities require space-to live on, to grow food on, for developing resources, and for disposal of waste....
...Using these calculations, we find that people are using an average of 2.2 hectares (5.5 acres) of the planet's resources per person, a full 0.5 hectares (1.1 acres) more than our fair share.... The worldwide overshoot of 30% helps to explain environmental deterioration.
...Because our children and grandchildren will suffer, limiting human numbers and consumption have become moral issues, if not issues of life or death. Fortunately, many couples want to limit their childbearing far below their current fertility. What is missing is access to good family planning....
...Of 210 million pregnancies annually worldwide, 80 million (38%) are unplanned, and 46 million (22%) end in abortion.
More than 200 million women in developing countries would like to delay their next pregnancy-or stop bearing children altogether-but rely on traditional, less effective methods of contraception (64 million) or use no method because they lack access or face other barriers to using contraception (137 million). These barriers include cultural values that support high fertility, opposition to use of contraception by family members, and fears about health risks or side effects of contraception.
...the United States-the world's third largest country-is experiencing rapid population growth of nearly three million each year. The United States is projected to grow from 303 million in 2007 to nearly 350 million in 2025 and to 420 million by 2050. An estimated 1.4 million of 4.1 million annual U.S. births result from unintended pregnancy.... Even with immigration contributing more than one million people annually, unintended pregnancy is the source of about half of annual population growth in the United States...

2008 Summer. More Hunger, Less Hope: Striving to Grasp. Barbara Crossette, The Interdependent, Vol. 6 No. 2. pages 10-11.Excerpt: It is not as if there were no warnings over the last decade about the limitations of food production in an era of dwindling investment and innovation in agriculture and rapid population growth, with millions more people also able to eat better. But few agronomists or economists could have predicted that the law of supply and demand would kick in as harshly as it did this year. It was the combustible mix of general global economic jitters, big increases in consumer demand, record energy prices and the campaign to reduce oil dependence and carbon emissions by turning food crops into fuel that combined to send food prices skyrocketing. The World Food Program's director, Josette Sheeran, an American, calls it a "perfect storm." That was before two catastrophic natural disasters in Asia: a cyclone in Burma's rice-growing area and the earthquake in China. In affected areas of Burma, next year's rice harvest may also have been lost as seeds were washed away...

11 May 2006. Scientists Will Gather to Discuss Safety of Abortion Pill. By GARDINER HARRIS NY Times. Worried about a bacterial infection that led to the deaths of at least five women who took the abortion pill RU-486, scientists from the nation's leading public health agencies will gather in Atlanta today for the first meeting in 10 years on the drug's safety. ...Abortion experts have been at a loss to explain why four of the deaths occurred in California. Initially, the F.D.A. investigated whether the pills used in California might have been contaminated, but an agency official said tests had found no evidence of contamination. Another theory concerned the role a dry climate might play in encouraging the growth of Clostridium sordellii, which lives in soil. Some experts believe that pregnant women who take RU-486 with another drug, misoprostol, are more vulnerable to infection. RU-486 by itself ends early pregnancies, but the pill is routinely given along with misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions ...There has been no hint that the F.D.A. is considering further restrictions on the use of the drug. ...A 43-year-old New York mother of two who said that she had had "every kind of abortion," told her abortion provider during a counseling session recently that she would consider only a pill-based procedure. "I do not like doctors and hospitals," said the woman, who did not wish her name to be used for privacy reasons. "Both of my children were born at home without anything. And that's how I want to have my abortion: in home, in my privacy, at my own pace and without somebody's other agenda over me." ...Anne Hawkins, 36, also of New York, said she, too, had had both pill-based and surgical abortions. But taking RU-486, she said, "was the worst experience, the most physically and emotionally painful thing, that I've ever been through." Ms. Hawkins had another abortion in March, and she chose surgery. "It was 10 minutes, max, and then it was over," Ms. Hawkins said of the surgical procedure. "The pill for me was the experience of having a baby. Contractions for 10 hours, sweating, screaming, being by myself. It was emotionally scarring and physically horrible."

2005

18 February 2005. 2 Big Appetites Take Seats at the Oil Table. By KEITH BRADSHER , NY Times. MUMBAI - India, sharing a ravenous thirst for oil, has joined China in an increasingly naked grab at oil and natural gas fields that has the world's two most populous nations bidding up energy prices and racing against each other and global energy companies. Energy economists in the West cannot help admiring the success of both China and India in kindling their industrialization furnaces. But they also cannot help worrying about what the effect will be on energy supplies as the 37 percent of the world's population that lives in these two countries rushes to catch up with Europe, the United States and Japan. And environmentalists worry about the effects on global warming from the two nations' plans to burn more fossil fuels.


2004

5 April 2004. [Europe] Modern Society Pits Mothers Against Public Health Systems. As European women have fewer children at an older age and continue to find new opportunities in the workplace, a conflict is arising between the preferences of pregnant mothers and the capabilities of their public health systems to cope with those preferences. Due to the increase in education and expectations for women in the region, pregnant women want to have more of a say in the timing and process of childbirth. Across Europe, the incidence of scheduled Caesarean Section births has risen, along with the requests for the procedure. However, most public hospitals in the United Kingdom, Italy and France are unable to handle the large amount of requests, or are not outfitted with the latest technology. They are turning women down for the procedure and insisting on more traditional forms of childbirth, with a few compromises as far as equipment, location and medications. Wealthy women and celebrities have escaped this conflict, as they can afford to pay for the more accommodating private hospitals, but women who cannot afford this privilege are forced to adhere to the confines of the public health systems. (See "The Battle Over Birth," by Jennie James. Time Europe. April 5, 2004.)

13 April 2004. Varied Population Composition Increases United Arab Emirates's Size. The geographically small country of the United Arab Emirates surpassed a population size of 4 million people in 2003. With a growth rate of 7.6 percent (compared with a US growth rate of 1.4 percent), the UAE is the fastest growing country in the Arab world, and has one of the highest population growth rates worldwide. Also, the population of men is double that of women in the country. The composition of the UAE population accounts for their staggering sex imbalance. UAE citizens account for only 25 percent of the country's population; the rest of the population is comprised of expatriates from around the region and businesspeople from other parts of the globe, two-thirds of whom are male. Since population growth is not primarily due to natural increase, but rather immigration, an equal number of males and females cannot be expected. (From "UAE Population Crosses 4 Million at the End of 2003." Xinhua General News Service. April 13, 2004.

 

Articles from 2004–present

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