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Population facts and figures at your fingertips

This post is by Brigid Fitzgerald Reading, staff researcher at the Earth Policy Institute. The number of people in the world is expected to reach 7 billion by the end of October 2011. Our rate of increase continues to slow from the high point of over 2 percent in 1968. Still, this year’s 1.1 percent increase means some 78 million people will be added to the global population in 2011. The human population did not reach 1 billion until the early nineteenth century, and it took more than 100 years to reach 2 billion. After that, the intervals between billions …

Read more: Living, Population

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Soiled diapers can now end up as roof tiles

Babies! They use so much energy that the best thing you could do to save the human race from climate change might be to avoid having one altogether. But if you choose the reproductive path, at least the 6,000 poopy diapers that your offspring will produce in the course of his or her early years could have a second life as part of your house -- specifically, as the shingles tiling your roof. The diapers, thank goodness, are sterilized first. Then they’re separated out into their components. The, um, "organics" go to waste-to-electricity products, and the plastic part goes into …

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Will more attention to climate change bring back ‘population control’?

Ensure she has access to reproductive health care, then trust her to make her own decisions.Cross-posted from RH Reality Check. Who's afraid of climate change? Well, I am, but not necessarily for the reasons you may think. I'm afraid that the recent, much-deserved attention to climate change will revive some of the old alarmist debates on population. And with those debates, I'm worried that the specter of population control will rear its ugly head again. You see, as a woman of color, I am particularly sensitive to population-control arguments. After all, claims of "overpopulation" usually target women who look like …

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Where’s the contraceptive for overconsumption? [VIDEO]

"What we need to really find for the future is the contraceptive for overconsumption," says Mother Jones environmental correspondent Julia Whitty on PBS's Need to Know. In this video segment, Whitty, who wrote a MoJo cover story on population last year, talks population with Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation and author of the 2004 book The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What to Do About It. Whitty sums up the main dilemma: "This is the paradox that I wrote about, which is: The greatest way to slow population growth is to reduce …

Read more: Living, Population

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International family planning saves lives. So why is the GOP cutting it?

Cross-posted from RH Reality Check. Few examples of U.S. foreign assistance provide benefits as tangible, cost-effective, life-saving, and critical for both the United States and aid recipients as do international family planning and reproductive health services. Women and families across the developing world are healthier and stronger -- and societies are more stable -- as a result of access to basic health services. According to the Guttmacher Institute [PDF], for every $10 million invested in international family planning and reproductive health: 610,000 women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies; 190,000 fewer unintended pregnancies occur; 83,000 abortions are avoided; 500 …

Read more: Living, Politics, Population

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How environmental and women’s groups can work together

All together now!Photo: Edu van GelderCross-posted from RH Reality Check. Two experts -- Dr. Carmen Barroso, director of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Western Hemisphere Region, and Carl Pope, former executive director and current chair of the Sierra Club -- explain the connections between environmental and population issues and how the movements can work together. Q. When did you start to see the synergy between environmental and population issues? A. Carmen Barroso: I remember when we didn't see them. In the 1980s, I was living on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, developing a sex-education program with local women's organizations. …

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Women’s rights are key to slowing population growth

Cross-posted from Policy Innovations. As human numbers approach 7 billion, the question is, "Where do we go from here?" The U.N. recently published new population projections, which envision a range of possibilities for the 21st century. In the U.N.'s low projection, our numbers peak at 8 billion by mid-century, then decline to 6 billion by 2100. By contrast, the medium and high projections envision continued growth for the foreseeable future. According to the medium projection, the world's population would reach 10 billion by 2100; according to the high projection, nearly 16 billion. Now, I don't believe there is an optimal …

Read more: Childfree, Living, Population, Sex

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Women, population, and the age of the ‘Black Swan’

Photo: Stewart Morris Cross-posted from RH Reality Check. Welcome to the age of the Black Swan. The tornado that nearly leveled the city of Joplin, Mo., in May was a Black Swan; so was the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in March; and the "hundred-year floods" that now take place every couple of years in the American Midwest. A Black Swan is a low-probability, high-impact event that tears at the very fabric of civilization. And they are becoming more common: Weather-related disasters spiked in 2010, killing nearly 300,000 people and costing $130 billion. Black Swan events are …

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Population math explained: Growth rate is down, total is up [VIDEO]

Over the past 50 years, the growth rate of the global human population has slowed markedly, from 2.1 percent annual growth in the late '60s to about 1.2 percent today. Think 1.2 sounds low? Then you need a refresher on exponential growth. If the global population kept growing at that rate, our numbers would double in roughly 60 years (though even demographers' high-range projections don't foresee that happening). So, even while the annual growth rate has been slowing, our overall numbers continue to rise fast --        4 billion in 1974                   5 billion in 1987                            6 billion in 1999                                       …

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Come and get your Endangered Species Condoms

See related slideshow As humans spread and sprawl across the landscape, other critters are left up a creek without a paddle -- and sometimes even without a creek. In the natural course of things, plant and animal species do go extinct, but not nearly at the clip we're seeing these days. The rate of extinction has been estimated at 1,000-10,000 times what it would be without marauding Homo sapiens, and we're losing roughly 30,000 species a year, or three an hour. The Center for Biological Diversity is one of the few conservation organizations drawing an explicit link between population and …

Read more: Animals, Living, Population, Sex