Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


Leave a comment

Investors Support Population Growth for Profit

Overpopulation and wallstreet

Do Republicans support overpopulation?

“Should the Republican Party sweep the coming elections, the availability of family planning services will be greatly reduced and our population will continue to grow at an unhealthy rate.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 22, 2016—-The human population of planet earth is under a great deal of stress. Civil uprisings and violence are widespread. There are a variety of factors responsible for the stress. They include population growth, resource depletion, climate change, and the rapid concentration of wealth in a small group of super rich.

Slowing Population Growth

There is no simple answer to these problems but slowing or halting population growth provides part of the answer. Much of today’s global unrest and violence can be traced directly to overpopulation. The population in large areas has simply grown to the point that there are no longer enough resources to provide even a basic standard of living. However, there are those that profit from the rapid growth and are working to prevent efforts to slow the rate of growth.

Population Growth and the Corporate World

The global population is growing—80 million people each year. It is now adding a billion every 12 years. It’s clear the earth cannot sustain this kind of growth. Wall Street and its investors want to see our population grow. The operating philosophy of the corporate world is economic growth. Economic growth has been the cornerstone of political and the economy since the advent of the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago.

Corporate Profits and an Expanding Market

The industrial revolution was about increasing the production of manufactured goods for profit. Corporate profits depend on expanding the market for their manufactured goods and services. This can be accomplished in either of two ways. The first was to expand the market geographically and the second was by reducing the price of the commodity. In the United States, 70% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now generated by services, and so the major market is the size of the population itself. Increasing the population automatically increases the market for goods and services. Based on this simple principal of growth, corporate America has opposed any effort to slow the population growth.

Planned Parenthood

Opposition to Defund Planned Parenthood

In the United States, there is a substantial effort to reduce family size through methods of birth control. However, there are more than three million unintended pregnancies each year. Most are not using oral contraceptives simply because they do not have access to them. Planned Parenthood of America (PPA) is one of the most prominent groups providing these services. The demand for their services is high. It is estimated that twenty percent of American women have been to a clinic operated by PPA for health reasons. Most of the clients are low income and have no other health care provider.

The Republican Party vs. Planned Parenthood

There is now a major movement in this country to eliminate birth control. The opposition to these services is led by a variety of groups which consider themselves as being pro-life. One anti-abortion group even produced a video supposedly showing a clinic selling fetal parts after an abortion. The video has since been shown to have been fabricated.

In recent years the the government has supported Wall Street’s position. The Republican Party has long prevented US funds from being used for family planning in foreign countries. It is now supporting the religious right in efforts to defund family planning in this country. They consider contraception to be a form of abortion. They thus argue that contraception is not compatible with the pro-life movement.

Opposition to the Affordable Care Act

The current congress is also in opposition to the Affordable Care Act under which contraception is available. As a result opposing contraception has become a Republican strategy. The house of representatives proposed the defund Planned Parenthood act of 2015 (HR3134) last year. This bill would prohibit any funds from being used for any purpose by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The 114th congress blocked funding for Planned Parenthood for providing abortions. This bill would remove nearly half a billion dollars from the organization.

Also in 2015 congress setup several committees to investigate Planned Parenthood. Fortunately, President Obama has prevented these bills from becoming law. Many states have since passed their own laws limiting family planning. Should the Republican Party sweep the coming elections, the availability of family planning services will be greatly reduced and our population will continue to grow at an unhealthy rate.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Indian Subcontinent Again Sets Record Temperatures

India Droiught

Record breaking temperatures and little rain.

“As the planet warms it can be expected that there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places.”

Dr. John Hidore

July 22, 2016—Global warming is occurring over the entire planet and record high temperatures have become common. The Indian subcontinent is no exception. Early written history documents heat waves and droughts.While temperature records were not available prior to the late 19th century, written descriptions indicate the severity of some earlier events.

Drought and Famine in 1768-1770

In the mid-eighteenth century the people of India were largely subsistence farmers. It was primitive crop agriculture subject to the vagaries of the monsoon. The country was under the control of the British East India Company, which kept the farmers on the verge of starvation under the best of conditions. Because of the general poverty of the mass of the population, and the marginal food supply, only a small shortfall in rain produced scattered starvation.

India is a large country, and at the time only a ponderous transportation system existed. There was no means of moving large quantities of food, or of moving people to more productive areas. Therefore, when drought set in, the alternatives were few. The beginnings of a prolonged drought and massive famine began in India in the fall months of l768. Rainfall was below normal and the crops were poor in December. The summer monsoons did not produce the usual rain in l769 and again the crop yields were scanty. By April of l770, over 30 million people in West Bengal and Bihar were directly affected. Estimates of deaths ranged upward to l0 million. The deaths were due to a combination of starvation and disease. Smallpox became epidemic in association with the drought. The death toll was exacerbated by the flood of people that fled the countryside and moved into the cities looking for sustenance. There was little to be found.

Drought in India

Indian drought causes famine.

Drought and Famine in Asia, 1875-1879

It was just a little more than a century later that drought and famine struck India with even more lethal results. The atmospheric circulation began to shift as early as 1873 in central Asia. Summer monsoons weakened for a number of years. By August 1877 the Indian government was well aware that a major famine was in progress and was going to get worse. Since rainfall was low there was insufficient feed for livestock. Wells, ponds and streams dried up. The lack of feed and water resulted in extensive loss of animals. Rainfall was so low that there was no measurable summer crop harvested in many districts. Human mortality was high.

Following the poor summer harvest, dysentery, smallpox, and cholera flared up into epidemic proportions taking a heavy toll of the population. In Bombay Presidency (Providence), the excess mortality from the famine of 1876-1877 reached 800,000 lives over the normal death rate. The Famine Commission estimated that by the end of 1878 the loss of life in the Providence totaled 3.5 million.

Indian drought

Global warming raises temperatures around the world.

The Asian Heat Wave of 2015

In May 2015, a heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 48 degrees C (118.4 degrees F). Other high temperatures were:Allahabad 47.8 degrees C (118.0 degrees F) Delhi 45.5 degrees C (113.9 degrees F)Hyderabad 46 degrees C (115 degrees F) Jharsuguda 45.4 degrees C (113.7 degrees F).

In June 2015, the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain but may have reached more than 1000. It was followed by several weeks of the most severe heat wave to strike India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services could not cope with the heat.

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

The Indian Heat Wave of 2016

India experienced even higher temperatures this year than in 2015. Temperatures were above normal most of the spring. Normally, the hottest months of the year are April, May, and June, before the summer monsoon rains begin. In May a severe heat wave alert was issued for several states. A severe heat wave is one in which temperatures of at least 117°F (47.2°C) occur. In the city of Philodi, in western India, unofficial temperatures reached 124°F (51°C). This is the highest temperature on record in India. Temperatures averaged above 104 degrees F (40°C) over large areas. Some urban high temperatures were New Delhi 47 °C (117 degrees F) Churu 50 °C (122 ºF)Philodi 51.°(124 degrees F).

The impact in India was immense. More than 300 million people have been been adversely affected. Crops failed or were below average in 13 states in the last growing season. Thousands of farmers abandoned their farms. In places the asphalt on the streets partially melted. At Bikaner, the streets were being sprinkled with water to reduce the heat. 17,000 villages had, or were facing water shortages. Several Indian states shut down schools to reduce risk to students. Heatstroke was a widespread problem and many deaths were reported across the region.

Fortunately, the government responded in a variety of ways to reduce the suffering and mortality. Forecasts for the summer monsoons are far above average precipitation. The first monsoon rains began in the south in the second week of June. Only time will tell if the monsoons will be enough to break the drought.

As the planet warms it can be expected that: (1) there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places. As cities grow larger in area and population, they will experience increasing heat waves. (2) new record high temperatures will be set across the planet.


Leave a comment

Human Population Growth Challenges Global Carrying Capacity.

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

The major premise of sustainable growth is that there must be a balance among population growth, economic growth, and the carrying capacity of planet.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

May 27, 2016—-Carrying capacity is a biological concept. It is the limit to the population size of a given species the environment can sustain without damage to the environment. There is, for example, a limit to the size of a herd of elephants that the Serengeti Plains in Africa can support without the herd damaging the ecosystem. Carrying capacity for a species can, and often does, change over time. It can increase or decrease due to changing climate. If annual rainfall increases over time this may increase the food supply for some animals. It may decrease the food supply for others.

Over Population and Carrying Capacity

The same is true when temperature changes. The size of a population may increase or decrease, depending on reproductive rates. Overpopulation can damage the ecosystem and reduce the carrying capacity. The ultimate limit to carrying capacity on the planet is tied to photosynthesis. This is the limit of the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

Overpopulation of our planet.

You may not want to be here!

Limits to Growth: Carrying Capacity for Humans

A fundamental question for us is to decide if there is a carrying capacity of Earth for the human species. “Limits to Growth” by Paul Ehrlich was perhaps the first major statement that recognized the problem at the global scale. The basic premise is that there is an upper limit to the sum of population growth, food production, and economic productivity. There is growing support for a global policy of sustainable development.

The major premise of sustainable growth is that there must be a balance among population growth, economic growth, and the carrying capacity of planet. Sustainable development must provide a balance between the needs and desires of the present generation, and yet protect the carrying capacity of our planet for future generations. In planning for the future, we cannot consider the environment alone, or human needs alone.

Carrying Capacity and overpopulation

What is Carrying Capacity?

Economic Growth and Environmental Stability are Linked

Economic growth and environmental stability are inextricably linked. Sustainable development recognizes that there are limits to human population growth and economic growth. There are a group of academics, mainly social scientists and economists, that argue there is no carrying capacity at all–that there is no limit to population growth! They base their argument on the fact that, in the past, all projections of shortages of food, energy, and other resources have failed to materialize.

These academics say we have always been able to find substitutes for items in short supply. They say we have always been able to increase food supply to not only keep up with the growing population, but to meet a satisfactory level of nutrition. They continually point to the Malthusian doctrine as being not only scientifically but morally wrong.

What is the Carrying Capacity of Our Planet?

What the carrying capacity is for the planet for the human species has been studied extensively in recent decades. The result is that there is no fixed number of people attached to the carrying capacity, but with a lower population, the better the quality of life is going to be in the future. This quality of life is also dependent on the food we are able to grow to feed future populations. We can make choices about the level of food intake and the economic level at which we wish to live.

All technological developments, from the early use of stone tools and fire to the invention of fracking, cause change in our environment. What the sustainable population may be, in which world resources are distributed equally, is not known. The estimates vary widely—from four billion to 16 billion. If the carrying capacity is actually near the lower estimate we are in deep trouble as the population is already over seven billion. Even a cursory look at the extent of malnutrition, migration, poverty, and violence suggest that we are well past the sustainable level!


Leave a comment

Cocoa and Deforestation

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance: Sustainably Grown Chocolate

By Linn Smith

Cocoa plantations created by clearing away the rainforests create multiple environmental problems.

February 5, 2016—Who doesn’t like chocolate? When we eat this delicious melt-in-your-mouth treat we want to enjoy it–not think about the environmental destruction connected with it or how it may be affecting our everchanging climate. My first reaction–NO! Not chocolate too! But alas–it seems so!

To keep up with our sweet tooth demands, cocoa farmers have shifted from natural, sustainable farming to methods that are environmentally destructive, including clearing away the rainforests.

Cocoa Production: A Huge Industry

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. According to Wikipedia, cocoa farming can only take place 15 degrees north or south of the Equator, with West Africa being the biggest producer. The Ivory Coast produces 40% of the world’s cacao for chocolate. Other cacao producing countries are Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Peru. The market value for the world’s chocolate for 2016 is approximately $98.3 billion–a huge industry that can also be corrupt, involving everything from child labor to smuggling.

Cacao Tree and Chocolate

Grown on Plantations-Destroying Rainforest

The Environmental Impact of Cocoa Production

What is the environmental impact of our sweet tooth? Cacao is traditionally grown on small farms. The trees that produce the beans grow naturally under the large leafy canopies of the rainforests, but many cocoa farmers have cleared away the rainforest to create cocoa plantations in the open sunlight, as it makes the pods easier to harvest.

Cocoa plantations created by clearing away the rainforests create multiple environmental problems. Farmers have moved towards plantations because they produce a greater quantity, lower quality and a higher yield of cocoa, but planting cacao in an open, cleared field attracts pests which requires spraying with chemicals. Also, animal habitats are destroyed and tons of CO2, which is stored in the leaves and trunks of the cleared trees, is released into our atmosphere, furthering the warming of our planet. “The more intense the farming practices are, the more damaging they are to the ecosystem. Cocoa farming becomes a destructive circle as farmers wear out the soils and cut further into the forest to obtain fresh land. All of these processes stress the Cacao trees and eventually lead to lower yields of cocoa, giving the opposite effect to what the farmers expect from these practices.”

Clearing the Rainforest for Cocoa

Where rainforests are protected by the government, farmers and corporations will often cut down forests illegally. An example of this was recently documented by scientists and conservation groups, charging United Cacao with “quietly cutting down more than 2,000 hectares (one hectare equals about 2 1/2 acre) of primary, closed-canopy rainforest along the Peruvian Amazon.” Scientists watched this happen via satellites which monitor the earth’s surface and provide data on how the earth is changing over time. In 2013 United Cacao also boldly stated on their website that they were starting the “clearing work to ready their land for a cacao plantation.”

Dennis Melka, CEO of United Cacao, has also been involved in the palm oil industry, cutting down rainforests for palm oil. Clinton Jenkins, ecologist at the Institute of Ecological Research in Brazil, says, regardless of data, that United Cacao will continue to claim the land was already deforested when they obtained it—that they created their cocoa plantations on previously cleared land and United Cacao had nothing to do with the deforestation! But Clinton states, “It was already deforested because United Cacao has deforested it!”

Certified Sustainable Practices

Look for Products with the Green Frog

Educating Cocoa Farmers

Training farmers in sustainable farming is the key to deforestation. Organizations such as the World Cocoa Foundation, Deforestation-Free Cocoa and Rainforest Alliance are attempting to return cocoa farming to its sustainable roots, planting the trees in their natural habitats underneath the broad leafs of the rainforest canopy. Even though rainforests are already cleared in many places, farmers can still be educated in ways to sustainably grow cacao, such as financing farmers on the condition they will not deforest further, ensuring fair labor and organic practices, and selling through a farmer’s coop that assures higher prices.

Rainforest Alliance

Dove Dark Chocolate

What can you do to help? Buy only Rainforest Alliance chocolate. “The Rainforest Alliance has been working to strengthen the position of smallholder cocoa farmers since 2006, both on the land and in the marketplace, by training them to conserve natural resources, increasing productivity and securing a decent living and working conditions.”

Rainforest Alliance brands are stamped with the little green frog on the wrapping! Some companies that use chocolate from Rainforest Alliance farmers are: Clif Bar, Dove Dark Chocolate, Dagobac, Hershey’s Bliss, NibMor.

Protecting forests plays a key role in fighting climate change.


Leave a comment

The Irresponsible Practices of the Palm Oil Industry

Palm oil and negative environmental impact

Palm oil plantations are in demand as the world uses more palm oil

The use of palm oil products, that further the destruction of our planet, its people and wildlife, is not acceptable!

By Linn Smith

December 4, 2015—Being curious about palm oil and its devastation to wildlife habitats and the environment, many questions have lingered in my mind. What are the various kinds of palms and what palms are used as oil palms? What is the relationship of oil palms to coconut palms? (I use a lot of coconut oil!) How is the harvesting of products from palm trees effecting our environment? So I decided to investigate and here’s what I found:

Palm Oil Products

According to Philadelphiazoo.org, a zoo currently working towards spreading awareness of the negative impacts of palm oil, the oil can go by many different names in many different products, such as foods, cosmetics, hair and lotion products, cookies, toothpaste, cleaning products, and the list goes on. Here are some of the different names for palm oil you may find on these products: Cetyl Palmite, Ethyllhexyl Palmitate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Octyl Palmitate, Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol, Palmolein, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palmate….and more!

The Arecaceae Family

Oil palm and other palms, including coconut, come from the family Arecaceae which means “palm”–but there are thousands of different species of palm trees which grow a variety of different fruits, from dates and acai to coconuts. The fruit of the palm oil tree has kernels which are pressed to make palm oil. Most palm oil comes from the species Elaeis Guineensis. Coconut palm is from the species Cocos Nuciferas. A website, davesgarden.com, describes many of the various fruits of the palm family.

The Palm tree, which we get our coconut oil from, is mostly cultivated in Indonesia, the Philippines and India on a very small scale. The coconuts, harvested by local farmers, are a renewable resource. The coconut palm is known as a “three generation tree”, as it continues through three generations, supporting the farmer, his children and his grandchildren. The farmers produce coconut for coconut milk, coconut oil, fibres for rope, mats, mattresses, and paint brushes.

Removing tropical forests for palm oil

Tropical forests are burned to make room for palm oil plantations.

The Negative Impacts of Palm Oil

Quite the opposite of coconut production is the environmentally unfriendly production of palm oil. The oil palm is mass cultivated on large plantations that have been created by removing not only the indigenous people from their homes, but also have devastated the habitat of wildlife, mainly the Orangutan and Tiger in Indonesia and Malaysia. Tropical forests have been cleared to create plantations. This clearing has added to the warming of our planet as the valuable trees are cut and sold, leaving the rest to be burned down. Burning of the tropical forests emits large quantities of smoke into our atmosphere. Oil palms are then planted.

When the forests are cut they release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, driving up temperatures by the greenhouse effect. Indonesia is the 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. It is estimated that 714 million acres of tropical forests will be cleared by 2050 adding another 169 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the the atmosphere, significantly raising global temperatures.

Oil palm industry and child labor

Child labor is used by the oil palm industry.

Violations by the Palm Industry Corporations

Corporations involved in the palm industry are accused of human rights violatons by employing child labor and taking the land owned by indigenous people for their own financial benefit–to supply the world with palm oil! Without their own land, the indigenous people have no choice but to become palm plantation workers, getting paid barely enough to support their families.

Another negative effect of cutting tropical forests for palm oil plantations is the destruction of peatlands, which store carbon. These peatlands, which have developed over thousands of years, are drained and cleared. According to biofueldaily.com, “Draining the peatlands exposes the upper layer to oxygen, raising decomposition rates and soil carbon losses. Most of the carbon is emitted into the atmosphere, speeding up climate change by emitting still more greenhouse gasses.” Clearing a single acre of peatland rain forest can release up to 15,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, (one hectare releases up to 6000 tons of CO2).

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

In 2004 the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established by producers, manufacturers, traders, bankers and investors of the palm oil industry, with the objective to “promote growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards.”

Greenpeace and many other environmental organizations have criticized this group as, “Falling short of protecting the rain forests and reducing greenhouse gasses,” because the RSPO which has created the certified sustainable palm oils is not guaranteed to be deforestation-free. The RSPO also allows the destruction of peatlands by the industry. In 2013, 200 scientists asked for stronger standards, but the RSPO failed to respond.

In 2014, 67,000 tons of palm oil was used by Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Nature Valley, requiring 44,700 acres of tropical land to be cleared to grow the palm oil.

According to the Union Of Concerned Scientists there are steps we can take to let the industry know these practices are not acceptable. By going to the website:https://secure3.convio.net, you can sign a letter to the industry to increase sustainable practices.

The use of palm oil products, that further the destruction of our planet, its people and wildlife, is not acceptable! Do what you can to make a difference!


Leave a comment

We Have Met the Enemy

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

By Pogo
(Kelley, Poster 1970 Earth Day)

By Dr. John J. Hidore
October 16, 2015—Over the period that humans have been a species on Earth the number of individuals has increased over time. At first it increased very slowly. Gradually the total population increased and is currently increasing at a faster rate than previously recorded. There have been times when disaster struck, which slowed the population growth, or possibly even decreased the total number of people.

Growing Pressure on Earth’s Resources

During the 21st century the earth has added approximately 80 million persons each year. For each additional person added to the total, there must be additional resources of food, fresh water, energy supplies, and material for clothing and shelter. There has been growing pressure on Earth’s resources to support this rapid increase in population. The 2013 report by the Inerter-governmental panel on Climate Change states, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.” The growth of the human population and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.

The key to reducing climate change, global hunger, and poverty is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth. There are means available to slow or even stop the growth. However, there is tremendous pressure to keep the population growing. There are major groups that thrive on population growth and spend huge amounts of money and time to keep it growing.

population

Population growth accelerating.

Organized Religions thrive on Population Growth

Many organized religions contribute to climate change and global poverty. The strength of organized religions is in the size of their adherents. Since their power lies in their numbers they often encourage large families and oppose the use of any kind of family planning including birth control. Population growth could be slowed substantially if it were not for this type of thinking of many organized religions.

The two major religions in terms of membership are Christianity and Islam. There are about 2.1 billion adherents of Christianity. The holy book of Christianity is the Bible which does not address the issue of family planning. Within Christianity there are many different organized churches, the largest being the Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has long considered any kind of birth control to be a sin and this was reiterated by Pope Francis this year. Other Christian churches also support rules against abortion and the use of contraceptives.

There are approximately 1.5 billion followers of Islam. The Islamic holy book is the Quran. Like the Bible, the Quran does not prohibit family planning and does not formally address the issue. Some forms of contraception have been in use in Islamic countries since the origin of Islam. In today’s world the followers of Islam have a wide variety of choices of birth control. In some countries, where Islam is the prevalent religion, contraceptive use among women is a high as 70%. In others it is estimated to be substantial. Islam has strict rules that prohibit sexual relations before marriage. It views sexual relations between husband and wife as an expression of love and is encouraged. However, prohibition of contraception has grown as a means of increasing the followers of Islam. Many other countries or sects are prohibiting contraception for a variety of reasons.

population growth and energy needs

With population growth comes the accelerated need for energy.

Wall Street and Economic Development Thrive on Population Growth

Nations that advocate economic growth do so for reasons of profit. In much of the world today the advocates of increasing profits control the economic policies. In countries such as the United States and other western countries, almost all governmental economic decisions are aimed at increasing the market for goods and increasing profits. The profit motive inevitably overrides the needs of the majority of the human population or the impact on the environment. The end result is often predictable–civil disobedience and popular uprisings!

Much of the global business community has denied climate change and resource scarcity since before the Kyoto conference, and has been a major proponent of population growth in the name of profit. This manifests itself in the form of government opposition to family planning, sponsoring legislation to limit abortion and contraception. It is often counselled by the global business community as a woman’s health issue.

National and tribal interests

In some religions and geographical areas, the use of birth control methods is considered a crime. A case in point is the nation of Iran. This year the government declared the use of contraceptives to be a criminal act. Even in some secular countries there are laws that make abortion a crime of murder even to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape.

Iran is not alone. A number of European countries have become concerned about their declining birthrate. Among them are Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Italy. The populations of these countries, as in many European countries, is aging due to the low birth rates. The number of residents over the age of 65 has nearly doubled the world average and is expected to increase. This has major economic and social impact on these countries. Denmark has now introduced education on having children, as well as not having them.

These group policies are responsible for much of the rapid growth in population. Their self-interest is more important than the welfare of the human population or the condition of the environment. It is time the effect of these policies should be made clear and the policies made subject to re-evaluation. Much of the global population is now under great stress as is the environment.

Each day without action increases the stress and the probability of a global human disaster.


1 Comment

The Barefoot College: Connecting India’s Villages to Solar Power

The Barefoot College--going solar

Footpaths to the Villages

More than 1000 villages have gone solar, with at least 450,000 homes electrified and now relying on solar instead of kerosene and wood.

By Linn Smith

October 9, 2015—In developed countries solar is a lifestyle choice for households. In developing countries, such as India and Africa, it is a need! People from small, poor villages know nothing of being connected to an electrical grid. In these villages, people struggle to find resources for light, using kerosene or wood, both of which emit thick fumes and cause poor health, air pollution, fire hazards and deforestation due to their wood burning stoves.

The Barefoot College

But things are changing! In India, women are traveling to a place called the Barefoot College to learn how to solarize their villages. And solarizing their villages means more time for people to do other things, such as growing gardens, creating small businesses and time to work towards an education. Communities working with the Barefoot College have replaced from 50-100% of their kerosene lamps with solar power lights!

Barefoot college and Bunker Roy

Going Solar In India

The Founder, Bunker Roy

In 1972, Bunker Roy, now 70, started addressing the needs of India’s drought stricken villages, but in the 1980’s he broadened his school to encompass sustainability and inequality of women. He has continued this path with his school, the Barefoot College. Roy has been named Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year in 2010, plus one of 50 environmentalists who could save the planet by the Guardian!

Barefoot College is located in Tilonia Village in Rajasthan, India. The college is made up of environmentally friendly, dome-shaped buildings on 8 acres of land which were built by the students. Barefoot College is based on Gandhi’s ideas of lifestyle and work–it has dirt floors and no chairs to help people feel at home and comfortable–a college exclusively for the poor! Roy’s philosophy is that each village should be self-reliant. This is based on Gandhi’s “Swadeshi” philosophy, which means local self-sufficiency.

The Barefoot College

Gandhi’s Philosophy: The small villages must be empowered.

Barefoot College and Gandhi’s Philosophy

Only a small part of Gandhi’s struggle was to end British colonialism. The greater part was to renew India’s culture and spirit. After the British were driven from India, Gandhi wanted India’s government to surrender much of its power to local villages. “The true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too.” Swadeshi was a program for long-term survival of these villages. And, thus, the philosophy of the Barefoot College, so named because it is committed to the poor inhabitants of small, country villages in India.

Learning to Install Solar

How does learning solar at Barefoot College work? A Barefoot team looks for villages in India (it has also been extended to Africa and other countries) with people living on less than $1 a day. The village must commit to solar by allowing two grandmothers (yes, grandmothers!) to attend the Barefoot College for 6 months of solar training. These middle-aged women are chosen because they have strong roots in the community, and they are unlikely to migrate to bigger cities, as younger people in the villages might do. If Barefoot College puts the effort into training someone, they want them to stay in the village and facilitate any work necessary to maintain the solar systems–they don’t want to lose the people they have trained!

Barefoot College

Women Solar Engineers

The women chosen as solar engineers do not need educational qualifications to attend Barefoot College—they don’t even need to know how to read or write! One hundred women solar engineers are trained at Barefoot College every year, learning how to hook up solar to electrify homes, solarize hot water heaters and cookers, and solar power the desalination of drinking water. They receive a small monthly salary from their village for maintenance and repairs to the solar systems. The solar engineers also can connect solar to schools, hospitals, community centers and other facilities. And the added benefit to our planet–they are reducing air pollution!

Using this method of education, more than 6,525 villagers have been trained. not only in solar, but in areas such as building homes and harvesting rainwater. Also, more than 1000 villages have gone solar, with at least 450,000 homes electrified and now relying on solar instead of kerosene and wood.

Lighting Up the Villages with Solar

The long term effect of training solar engineers? Not only does it boost the self esteem of the women trained, it has given people in the villages the opportunity to work and study into the night, start small businesses that continue after dark, and provide computers and televisions in community centers, along with many other benefits!

So, thanks to Bunker Roy and the Barefoot College for making Planet Earth a healthier place to live!


Leave a comment

Turmoil in Today’s World Revisited

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

Evidence points to the fact that as the population grows so does the severity of problems.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

July 16, 2015–In the second decade of the 21st Century, Earth’s human population is in turmoil. People are protesting hunger, poverty, unemployment, and drastic environmental changes. The Fund for Peace maintains a list of nations that are in danger of failing due to internal stress. In 2015 among 11 categories, 10 countries in Africa are listed in the most critical two categories. These countries are in the most danger of collapsing into failed states. Out of the 35 countries in highest risk conditions 25 of them were listed as higher at risk from 2012 to 2013.

Root Causes of Turmoil

A large percentage of people in these countries are leaving their homes and migrating to other regions in order to avoid violence, poverty and terrorism. In 2014 extremists in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia committed 13,500 terrorist attacks compared to 10,000 in 2013. Terrorists killed an estimated 33,000 people last year compared to 18,000 the previous year. They also carried out more than 9000 kidnappings. There are a number of phenomenon now operating simultaneously that are root causes for the uncertainty and turmoil.

The root causes of global turmoil include the following:

1. An exploding population: The global population is growing at some 80 million per year. This means adding another billion every 12-13 years.

2. Global warming: The year 2014 was the warmest ever recorded on the planet since records have been kept. Every region, from the Antarctic to the tropical rain forests, are changing as a result of the warming. The evidence of the planetary heating is overwhelming. Still the economic establishment has spent billions to deny the existence of a warming planet and to cover up the impact of global warming. Many admit global warming exists but insist this change is not due to human activity.

3. Resource depletion: The cost and consumption of non-renewable fuels is rapidly growing. Fresh water, agricultural land, and mineral resources are becoming scarce.

4. Individual and International debt: Individual debt is the highest in history. The European Economic Union is in danger of collapsing.

5. The rapid transfer of wealth upwards into the hands of a few. There are now nearly 2,000 billionaires in the world. On the other hand, there are more than three billion people that live on less than $2.50 per day. What’s worse is that there are more than one billion that live on less than $1.25!

The wealth of a nation can still mean poverty for its people.

Half of the world population live below the poverty level.

Human History and Our Future

Human history covers three million years and modern humans have inhabited the earth for the last 200,000 years. The global population has been growing throughout this long period of time. Evidence points to the fact that as the population grows so does the severity of problems. If we translate the three million years of human existence into a day, these events have become widespread in less than the last second of human history. What is unique is that they are all now taking place at the same time on a global scale. Not only are they taking place at the same time, but the speed of these processes is increasing at an accelerated rate. The rate of change, in some cases, is so rapid it is difficult to forecast their future status more than a few months in advance. This makes planning for the future very difficult.

Common Characteristics of Civil Uprisings

Desperate people take desperate measures. Civil uprisings are widespread over the earth. The people want change, the ruling establishments do not. The uprisings result directly from growing poverty among the people. In Africa, Asia and South America governments have fallen to these uprisings. Some of the characteristics of these unstable areas are:

High population growth rates
Economic decline
Deterioration of public services
Breakdown of law and order
Growing inequality of wealth
Tribal conflicts

Predictions for our Future

If these trends continue, the results include, but are not limited to the following:

There will be more intense crowding
There will be more and more uprisings by large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in quality of life.
There will be more and larger migrations of people in search of better opportunities.
There will be more and more environmental problems and disasters of all kinds.
Global climate change will result in greater stress for most living species.

Making a Difference

How long these trends will continue is unknown. If enough people take action to resist these changes they can be drastically slowed or stopped. The source of all action is the individual who decides to make a difference. Whether alone and moving ahead with individual projects for change, or by joining other people who are concerned and creating strength of action through numbers, it is only when enough people decide the negative trends are against the benefit of the majority, will things take place to stop them!


Leave a comment

Are There Limits to Population Growth?

Sustaining Earth's Growing Population

Is our Earth overpopulated?

Perhaps the earth’s sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

June 14,2015—The human population has been growing since the origin of the species homo, more than three million years ago. Modern humans developed about 200,000 years ago. The size of the population has increased during this long time span. Although it has not grown at a steady rate, the number of inhabitants of our planet has been rising. In the last century, it has increased at a faster rate than anytime during this span.

Increasing Beyond Available Resources

In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthius, a British economist, wrote about the principle of population growth. He concluded that humans would increase in number beyond the available resources to sustain them, and when this stage was reached the population would begin to decline. Disease, famine and war would reduce the population to a size our planet could support.

The basis of his conclusion? There is a limit to food, and other natural resources that are necessary to sustain the human population. This limit has become known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the upper limit of a given population which can be sustained without damage to the environment. The ultimate limit to the carrying capacity on our planet depends on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

The Need to Limit Growth

In 1968, a Stanford University biologist, Paul Ehrlich, authored a book entitled “The Population Bomb”. He illustrated the dangers of the rapidly growing population. At this time, the Earth’s population was approximately 3.5 billion. In 1972, the results of the first simulation model of the global economic system were published. The study was produced by a Futures group, known as the Club of Rome, formed from world industrial leadership by Aurio Peccei and Alexamder King. The study was titled “Limits to Growth” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens, 1972).

There was global response to this report. By some, it was taken as a projection of doom for the earth, as we know it, by the year 2100. The report showed what the future would hold if we did not interfere with present trends. The study supported the original findings of Malthus.

In spite of many attacks on “Limits to Growth”, the thesis of the book persists. No one can dispel the basic forecast presented. There is too much evidence that the prediction may eventually come true. Coupled with this is a growing, and perhaps fully warranted, fear that the human population is setting in motion forces of a scale of space and time that we can no longer control.

Population and Consumption

Will Earth’s resources support our growing population?

Carrying Capacity of the Earth

Based on this premise, the carrying capacity of Earth has limits for the human species. Studies have indicated that we may have passed the carrying capacity in the late 20th Century. While it is not possible to say exactly when this occurred, one estimate placed it in 1986. What is implied in this conclusion, is that we began consuming more than plant growth can sustain, and so environmental degradation is taking place. This degradation is now almost universal on the planet. It varies in form from place to place and varies in degree, but it is there. One study determined that we are now exceeding the carrying capacity by as much as twenty percent.

There Are No Limits To Growth

There was considerable opposition to the idea of limits to population growth. First and foremost is that the population has grown to over seven billion and continues to grow. A basic criticism of the projection of a limit of growth has been that the studies did not take into consideration the growth of technology. We are no longer dependent on the natural resources for food, clothing and shelter that were available in the past. Human intelligence has been creating new resources that allow the population to grow. Proponents of economic development insist that we will be able to create new resources to support unlimited growth in the future. At the current time, projections are being made for our population to grow between nine and twenty billion. These large numbers are certainly possible but only with increased poverty and need by the majority of these billions. This year, it is estimated that one billion of ou existing population will suffer some stage of malnutrition, and approximately a billion will not have fresh drinking water.

The Options

The important question we need to ask: What quality of life do we want for the majority of the earth’s population, and how much can we alter the natural environment and still sustain growth. That we are now altering the entire planet is clear. Does it matter? The “Sixth Extinction” by Elizbeth Kolbert, plus our currently changing climate, suggests we may be reducing the ability of the planet to sustain the population we now have. Many studies suggest that we have already grown well beyond the ultimate carry capacity. Perhaps the sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

(Article 1st Published December 2014)


Leave a comment

Population Growth Drives Climate Change

Population Increases Global Greenhouse Gases

Increasing Population Increases Climate Change

If family planning was made available globally, the population growth rate could be stabilized by 2050.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

May 10, 2014—Scientists now agree that increasing carbon dioxide is the major factor in climate change. In a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, it was disclosed that, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important factors in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission increases from fossil fuels.” Population growth, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change are associated with each other. Growth rates of the human population, atmospheric CO2 and climate change are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.

Estimated Growth of Global Population

In the next 12 months, the global population will grow by approximately 80 million. In the same 12 months the earth will need to increase food production, fresh water supplies, housing and employment to meet the needs of the 80 million increase in population! Growth rates for the planet are as high as they have ever been at anytime in history. The estimated growth of the global population is between nine and twelve billion by 2100. Think of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that will be added to the atmosphere by this time! The impact on climate change and the problem of providing for another two to five billion people is unimaginable!

Africa’s Population Growth

Under present conditions most of the population growth will be in Africa. The United Nations estimates the population of Africa will grow from the current level of one billion to more than four billion (3.1 billion to 5.7 billion is the range in estimates). Population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double from 0.86 billion in 2010 to 1.96 billion in 2050 because most women of child bearing age in families of the poorest people do not have access to family planning. In Somalia, for example. the average number of children per family was 6.4 in 2010.

Greenhouse Gases Increase with Population

The Cycle of Population Growth and Climate Change.

Availability of Family Planning Effects Population Growth

There is ample evidence that most cultures rapidly adopt family planning and contraception if it is available. Over 200 million women do not have access to family planning. National governments have been a major influence in making family planning available to their people.

Japan adopted family planning shortly after WWII and their birth rated dropped in half in just seven years, between 1951 and 1958. In the 1980’s Iran enacted family planning policies. Iran dropped its growth rate in half from 1987 to 1994. The number of children born per family dropped from seven to two.

Encouraging Population Growth

Some countries which have supported family planning are now reversing this policy, or considering it. Iran is one of these–it has now dropped its family planning agency. Iran is attempting to pass legislation to ban permanent sterilization and contraceptives. Justification for eliminating or reducing the funds for family planning? The population is aging and the growth rate is slowing. National leaders want to double the population, as a greater population would strengthen Iran’s prominence in the Middle East. One piece of legislation in Iran would give employment preferences for jobs to married men with children.

Similarly, a number of European countries are encouraging families to have more children. A non-profit group in Denmark, which is influential in sex education, is now changing its emphasis from how to prevent child birth to one that encourages families to have children. Denmark is not alone in concerns of a steadily lowering birth rate. Other countries include Germany, Italy, and Greece. Birth rates have been dropping in these countries for a variety of reasons.

Stabilizing Global Population Growth

Conservative groups in the United States have been attempting to eliminate abortion. In response to this pressure many states, such as North Carolina, are increasing restrictions on abortions. Most recently there has been a substantial effort to prevent group health plans from requiring the funding for contraceptions. Lobbyists in the United States are also fighting to stop the United States from funding family planning in foreign countries.

A simple policy that would make an almost immediate impact on population growth and climate change would be to make contraception available to all families that want it. This would be the simplest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions, slow climate change and improve the lives of women the world over. If family planning was made available globally, the population growth rate could be stabilized by 2050. It would not only slow climate change but have many other benefits. It would improve women’s health, and help to reduce poverty. It can be done if enough people would support it!

.