Lisa Hymas

Lisa Hymas is senior editor at Grist. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

The GINK Chronicles

Women’s rights are the right way to approach the population issue

Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International.Suzanne Ehlers, the new 36-year-old president of Population Action International, likes to talk about “the magic of family planning.”  If you give women around the world contraceptive tools and information, they’ll limit the size of their families of their own free choice, and that makes their families healthier, wealthier, and better able to thrive in a climate-changed world. PAI, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy group, focuses on a “voluntary and rights-based” approach to family planning, as Ehlers describes it.  I talked to her recently to find out how the population movement intersects with …

The GINK Chronicles

‘Sex and the City 2′ is the greenest movie of the year

Forget earnest documentaries about corporatized food and natural-gas fracking and climate refugees.  The greenest movie of 2010 chronicles the latest exploits of none other than Carrie Bradshaw. Yes, even though she’s a clotheshorse who once calculated she’d spent $40,000 on shoes.  Even though, in the latest installment of the blockbuster franchise, Carrie and her trio of best gal pals fly in mind-bogglingly spacious first class to Abu Dhabi, where they’re shuttled around in a fleet of four chauffeur-driven luxury sedans.  (There are camels, but they’re merely a diversion, not a means of transportation.)  Underneath the high-living, jet-setting sheen, the movie …

The GINK Chronicles

Why is India the poster child for the population problem?

A market street in Chennai, India.Photo: mckaysavage via FlickrJulia Whitty has written a smart, nuanced cover story on population for Mother Jones.  She addresses the important issues, she connects the dots, she knows her stuff. But I have a bone to pick. About half of the article explores the wide-ranging set of issues associated with global population growth and (over)consumption; the other half focuses on particular problems and signs of progress in India.  And the whole thing is illustrated with more than a dozen richly colored photographs of poor or middle-class Indians.  Whitty makes clear that population growth in the …

The GINK Chronicles

How green are the ‘childless by choice’?

Laura S. Scott has surveyed and interviewed more than 170 people for her Childless by Choice Project.  “I’m keenly interested in the process of decision-making,” she says. “How do we get from assuming parenthood for ourselves to the point where we’re saying, ‘No kids, thank you!’?”  She shares what she’s learned in a new book, Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, and in a forthcoming documentary. I called Scott to find out whether environmental concerns were a factor for many of the people she spoke with — and we also got to talking about whether …

The GINK Chronicles

Birth-control opponents greenwash their message

Even opponents of birth control are “going green” these days.  The uber-right-wing American Life League, founded by Catholic activists in 1979, launched a “The Pill Kills” campaign in 2008, and this year shifted its message to “The Pill Kills the Environment.” “Study after study has shown how the chemicals from the pill discharge into our waterways and wreak havoc on the fish,” says the campaign site, which is peppered with dour women in green T-shirts. (Buy your own shirt for only $6.50!) It’s true — studies do show that the Pill has adverse effects on marine life, and that’s also …

The GINK Chronicles

50 years after the Pill and this is the best we can do?

Happy 50th Birthday, Pill.The media are making a big deal out of fêting the Pill on its 50th birthday, but forgive me if I don’t see much reason to celebrate. Of course I’ll grant that the birth control pill has vastly improved the lives of many women — more than 100 million are taking it right now — giving us unprecedented control over our bodies and our futures. But right from the start — May 9, 1960, when the FDA announced that it would approve the Pill — things weren’t rosy.  Laws in many states barred women from actually getting …

The grow must go on?

How do you argue against the growth juggernaut?

I’ll be talking tomorrow to filmmaker Dave Gardner, who’s making a documentary called Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity.  He wants to hear about my choice to be a GINK — green inclinations, no kids.  And I’ll be offering thoughts about growth in general.  Any suggestions about points to make or ideas to share?  How can we best fight the assumption that what society needs is growth, growth, and more growth?  As Edward Abbey so memorably put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Here’s a trailer for the film, with …

Babies r'nt us

Grist editor talks childfree living and population on MSNBC [VIDEO]

Today I went on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show to talk about my recent post on being a GINK: green inclinations, no kids. (For the record, I have never said, “Kids are killing the planet,” and I would never want to drag any happy parent away from their adorable newborn in the hospital nursery.) —– Read more about population and the childfree option: The GINK manifesto: Say it loud: I’m childfree and I’m proud Childfree messages in Sex and the City 2 and Eat, Pray, Love Pundits criticize Elena Kagan for being childfree How green are the ‘childless by choice’? Women’s …

The GINK Chronicles

We need birth control, not geoengineering

I’ve written about my choice not to have children.  What’s all too easy to forget is that many women still don’t have any reasonable choice about their fertility. An estimated 200 million women around the world don’t have access to family-planning tools.  If they did, 52 million unwanted pregnancies could be averted every year, according to the Guttmacher Institute [PDF]. I’m not talking government mandates or coercion or heavy-handed tactics — those approaches aren’t just ethically dubious, they’re wholly unnecessary.  We just need to give every woman everywhere contraceptive options so she can have basic control over how many children …

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