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FOCUS ON GENDER. 1993 Feb; 1(1):22-3.Inequalities in distribution of wealth, uneven use and distribution of resources, and human settlement patterns contribute more to environmental degradation than does population size. Current global economic strategies and policy decisions affect population and the natural environment. Large-scale technology and communications, the globalization of capital, subordination within world markets, and increasing consumption levels have broken down livelihoods and the environment. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, population growth is not the key variable in environmental degradation. The erosion of livelihoods really affect women, especially poor women. Legal and political rights, women's economic independence, education, health, access to reproductive health services, and improved child survival greatly influence fertility decline. The disintegration of women's livelihoods restricts their access to health services and education. We cannot depend on capitalism to protect our livelihoods or the health of the environment. So nongovernmental organizations, international agencies, and national and local governments must do so. Assessments of intensive agriculture, industries destroying the social and physical environment, and military activities are critically needed. We need to reassess the macroeconomic forces affecting the natural environment and livelihoods of the poor. Communities should influence and demand policies and regulations preserving their access to resources. Women must participate more intensely in decision making. They should have access to key services. Citizens should have more access to information on environmental damage of industrialized products and processes. All of us need to advocate for more environmentally sound and sustainable forms of development and technology. People at the local, national, and global levels must work to change values that have caused overconsumption, thereby promoting a new ethic centering on caring for people and the environment.
In: Population, environment, and development, edited by R. K. Pachauri and Lubina F. Qureshy. New Delhi, India, Tata Energy Research Institute [TERI], 1997. 45-68.The authors discuss ways of achieving sustainable development given the constraints imposed by population and the environment. Aspects considered include poverty and environment, urbanization and migration, food security, consumption and the North-South debate, and policy suggestions. (ANNOTATION)
New York, New York, United Nations, 1989. xi, 126 p. (ST/ESA/213; E/CN.5/1989/2)The introductory section of this report on the world social situation describes the existing setting for social development, slow economic growth and scarce resources worldwide during the 1980s, and principal themes. The report was prepared by the Office for Development Research and Policy Analysis of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs of the UN Secretariat, with contributions from the Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the UN Office in Vienna. It explores the changing structure of the family; the advancement of women; food consumption and supply; inequality and poverty; new technologies and their social impact; threats to the environment; social development, security, and disarmament; international cooperation against drug abuse, international terrorism, and AIDS; migrants and refugees; and changing perceptions regarding social development issues. An annex considers the changing social situation in Africa.
POPULI. 1993 Nov; 20(10):5-6.Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland delivered the 5th Rafael M. Salas lecture at the United Nations in September 1993. The most serious, predictable, and intractable crisis facing us is population growth. If we do not recognize this threat, we will not be able to circumvent it. We must look at population policies in the wider framework of global burden sharing. We must all equally share bills for peace-keeping, peace-building, reducing poverty and famine, preventing environmental threats, and checking population growth. Areas requiring our attention include a need for industrialized nations to change production and consumption patterns, reduction of poverty, meeting basic human needs, a need for developing countries to protect the environment, and curbing population growth to help realize sustainable development. Industrialized nations need to realize the reducing consumption of natural resources does not denote a reduction in the standard of living. Consumption of renewable and abundant resources need not be reduced, however. Structural adjustment programs and external debt prevent developing countries from increasing their health budgets. Military budgets remain unreasonably high in many countries and those that have military budgets greater than a certain level are uncreditworthy. We should be educating a healthy population not arming them. Signs of hope in reference to population growth include: a consistent, overall decline in fertility which is especially sharp in developing countries; and socioeconomic development centering on enhancing human resources overcoming traditional religious and cultural obstacles to fertility decline. The success of family planning programs depends on improving women's status. Men need to become responsible for their sexual behavior, fertility, health, and children. We know what needs to be done to achieve sustainable development, but we mobilize everyone, especially political leaders and the mass media.
In: Change: threat or opportunity for human progress? Volume V. Ecological change: environment, development and poverty linkages, edited by Uner Kirdar. New York, New York, United Nations, 1992. 1-10.Even though we have improved human well-being over the last 30 years, poverty continues to thrive. Overproduction, consumption, and poverty pose serious threats to our entire planet and ecological systems. Scientists and policymakers are beginning to understand that elimination of poverty and sustaining the environment are connected in a complex manner. Nevertheless, the financial and policy commitments to change the ecological unsustainable actions needed for short-term survival of the almost 500 million poor people in the world fall behind awareness. Overproduction and consumption, especially in industrialized countries, is a leading reason why the environment continues to deteriorate. In developing countries, the leading reasons are poverty and limited economic opportunities. Thus, as developing countries become more developed, they must integrate environmental protection into development. Rising levels of carbon dioxide caused by combustion of fossil fuels is increasing the earth's temperature, which if left unchecked, will eventually expand our oceans. Deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate in developing countries, due to increased demand for tropical hardwoods by developed countries and the poor expanding land for agricultural purposes. Rapid population growth strains the natural resources of a country, resulting in deforestation, soil degradation, and reduced water supplies. Both industrialized and developing countries agree that global action and cooperation are needed to achieve sustainable development. Convincing lobbying efforts of nongovernmental organizations, conservationist groups, the media, and think-tanks, not governments, are responsible for putting environment and development at the top of the agenda. Governments and citizens recognize that many environmental issues cross international borders, e.g., air and water pollution. A broad consensus on many issues exist for global development, ranging from protection of the atmosphere to protection of human health.
In: Elephants in the Volkswagen: facing the tough questions about our overcrowded country, [by] Lindsey Grant. New York, New York, W.H. Freeman, 1992. 1-17.People in the US are beginning to realize that we are destroying the environment. Population size, per capita consumption, and technology fuel these environmental problems. The nation uses technological fixes and pleas for conservation to address these problems, but ignores population and consumption levels. We tend to have a bigger the better attitude toward consumption and this attitude and subsequent environmental degradation reduce the size of the population the environment can sustain. We must face the issue between personal freedom (a very strong and deeply rooted US sentiment) and social responsibility. Environmentalists have abandoned the maximum population approach and have adopted the concept of sustainability. Sustainability proponents believe that population size should not become so great that it destroys the carrying capacity of the Earth and its ability to support future generations. The US and other developed nations (e.g., the Netherlands) need a population policy. They also need to develop that considers humans as only a part of a functioning ecosystem and identifies an optimum population size, which allows us to achieve our national and social goals within that ecosystem. Macroeconomics and the scientific method are unable to serve as models to determine optimum population and, in fact, hinder the inquiry. We do not have the luxury to wait indefinitely for the systematic intellectual framework needed to study optimum population. Population is linked to air pollution, acid rain, global warming, unemployment, and ghettos. A population policy which limits immigration, has a national goal of a 2-child maximum family size, and shapes social policies to help realize this goal would help the US achieve a lower population size. In addition to the attitude that bigger is better other attitudes which lend themselves to considerable resistance to such a policy include those which revolve around self-interest, the injunction to be fruitful and multiply, and fear of coercion.
JOICFP NEWS. 1993 Feb; (224):1.The Population Forum 21 and the Interdependent World Institute organized the Population Forum 21 symposium held in Tokyo, Japan, on December 22, 1993. Its theme was Humankind, Culture, and the Earth. The UNFPA Executive Director used the Japanese tea ceremony, which represents spiritual tranquility and simplicity of taste, thereby teaching us about naturalness, simplicity, and self knowledge, to stress that the unbalanced world lacks these qualities. She emphasized that both developed and developing countries are jeopardizing the earth's life support systems. She indicated that developed nations, whose population growth has either slowed or stopped, consume the world's resources foolhardily, even though most people in the world do not have access to these resources. This consumption pattern and current wasteful production techniques greatly damage the environment. 80% of the world's population live in developing countries where high population growth rates worsen the already existing, widespread poverty. These high rates cause extensive environmental upheaval and worsen or destroy economic development. The keynote address speaker provided suggestions to improve the quality of life also using the Japanese tea ceremony, specifically its 4 parts (peace, mutual respect, purity, and silence), to make his point. Peace and mutual respect address the need for humans to learn how to live together with each other and with nature. Japanese Prince Takamadonomiya stressed the need for all people on the planet to communicate and to share responsibility for environmental issues.
Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1992. xxi, 291 p.The only person to serve on all 5 independent international commissions on global issues (e.g., the Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development) analyzes and compares scientific research to reveal the nature and magnitude of human excesses and their inherent dangers. He proposes recommended solutions from other international organizations. He urges us to achieve these solutions during a new era of enlightened change beginning with an Earth Charter at the June 1992 Conference on Environment and Development. This era depends on political will and the will of the people to accept and adopt long-term programs to protect the planet and to secure equitable access to its resources (i.e., a revolution in human consciousness). Sustainable development is based on needs, particularly those of the Earth's poor, and environmental limits. The rich tend to live in the industrialized countries of the North and account for 25% of the world's population, yet they consume 80% of commercial energy (i.e., burning of fossil fuels). In 1991, the world's worst polluter, the US, did not commit to stabilizing or reducing carbon dioxide output coming from consumption of fossil fuels. Since this consumption is almost entirely responsible for global pollution, the North must curb energy consumption. The author also petitions the North to help the South defeat poverty--the world's worst polluter, because the environment and world development are interconnected. He proposes a multilateral program comparable to the Marshall Plan implemented after World War II. The example of clearing tropical forests for timber exports and farming illustrates how poverty contributes to environmental pollution (e.g., it contributes to the build up of carbon dioxide, thereby threatening our atmosphere).
Report of the ESCAP/UNDP Expert Group Meeting on Population, Environment and Sustainable Development: 13-18 May 1991, Jomtien, Thailand.
Bangkok, Thailand, United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP], 1991. iv, 41 p. (Asian Population Studies Series No. 106)The 1991 meeting of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific considered the following topics: the interrelationships between population and natural resources, between population and the environment and poverty, and between population growth and consumption patterns, technological changes and sustainable development; the social aspects of the population-environment nexus (the effect of social norms and cultural practices); public awareness and community participation in population and environmental issues; and integration of population, environment, and development policies. The organization of the meeting is indicated. Recommendations were made. The papers on land, water, and air were devoted to a potential analytical model and the nature of the interlocking relationship between population, environment, and development. Dynamic balance was critical. 1 paper was presented on population growth and distribution, agricultural production and rural poverty; the practice of a simpler life style was the future challenge of the world. Several papers focused on urbanization trends and distribution and urban management policies. Only 1 paper discussed rural-urban income and consumption inequality and the consequences; some evidence suggests that increased income and equity is associated with improved resource management. Carrying capacity was an issue. The technological change paper reported that current technology contributed to overproduction and overconsumption and was environmentally unfriendly. The social norms paper referred to economic conditions that turned people away from sound environmental, cultural norms and practices. A concept paper emphasized women's contribution to humanism which goes beyond feminism; another presented an analytical summary of problems. 2 papers on public awareness pointed out the failures and the Indonesian experience with media. 1 paper provided a perspective on policy and 2 on the methodology of integration. The recommendations provided broad goals and specific objectives, a holistic and conceptual framework for research, information support, policies, resources for integration, and implementation arrangements. All activities must be guided by 1) unity of mankind, 2) harmony between population and natural resources, and 3) improvement in the human condition.
POPULI. 1989 Sep; 16(3):20-9.Rapid population growth and overpopulation do not create serious problems for poor countries - they explain why most of them cannot escape poverty. The creation of a worldwide lethal situation is not due to the crude numbers of people or population density per se, but to the disproportionately negative impact of rich nations dumping on the life support systems and resources of the world. Roughly 3/4 of carbon dioxide released in burning fossil fuels is caused by the mobilization of energy to power overdeveloped societies. Poor people don't use much energy, so they do not contribute much to the damage caused by mobilizing it. "The average Bangladeshi is not surrounded by plastic gadgets, the average Bolivian doesn't fly in jet airplanes, the average Kenyan farmer doesn't have a tractor or a pickup, the average Chinese doesn't have air conditioning or central heating in his apartment." Statistics on per capita commercial energy use are used to develop an index of responsibility, by country, for damage to the environment and the consumption of resources by an average citizen of a nation. A baby born in the US represents twice the disaster for earth as one born in Sweden or the USSR; 3 times one born in Brazil; 35 times one born in India; 140 times one in Bangladesh or Kenya; and 280 times one in Chad, Rwanda, Haiti or Nepal. Overpopulation in industrial countries represents a much greater threat to the health of ecosystems than does population growth in developing countries. People in rich nations are in better positions to take responsibility for the world's resource depletion and environmental deterioration, because if they fail to reduce consumption rates and develop more accountable corporate standards, they can't expect the developing world to do so. The situation requires input by all nations to find solutions to problems of population growth, environmental degradation and damaging technologies and to design a more sustainable civilization. (Author's modified). (EXCERPT)