Population Matters Update - February 2016 Part I

Population awareness

On 25 January, our volunteers performed a campaign stunt outside the Department for International Development in London to coincide with the International Conference on Family Planning. Dressed in condom costumes, they handed out Population Matters’ branded condoms and leaflets to call on the UK government to spend more of its international development spending on family planning.

13 February is the 250th anniversary of Thomas Malthus' birth

13 February will mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Malthus. We shall be using the anniversary to raise the issue of population and sustainability, and we invite members to contact their local media about the occasion, using our pre-prepared media pack. Further resources are on our website.

Population Matters patron Sir David Attenborough raised the problem of population growth in a recent interview by the Sunday Times Magazine to mark his 90th birthday. “It seems to me that every one of the ills of the past 200 years — hunger, famine, loss of identity, forests disappearing, loss of dignity, overcrowding, loss of countryside — it’s all to do with increased population,” Sir David said. “The only way you can deal with this situation — well, I can’t see myself getting on a soapbox and saying, ‘Stop having children’ — is when people are better off without so many children. Anywhere that women have control of their bodies and education and are literate and politically independent, the birth rate falls. Kerala in India is an example of that.”

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Family planning & women’s rights

The Guttmacher Institute has published a paper examining the myths about contraception in urban Africa. The paper revealed some alarming facts; for example, in the eight developing countries surveyed, 50 – 70 per cent of respondents thought using the contraceptive pill carried considerable health risks.

Removing the language barrier could help Muslim women to access the rights and opportunities they are entitled to

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the government intends to spend £20 million on programs to teach Muslim women English. Mr Cameron said the language barrier is used in certain communities to “segregate” the women from society and deny them their sexual and reproductive rights.

The number of births to teenage mothers in America has fallen to an historic low. Data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of new teenage mothers has declined by half over the last 25 years.

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Environmental conservation

The World Health Organization has stated that pollution in many cities is now a global “public health emergency”. According to the UN, there are now 3.3 million premature deaths every year from air pollution, with 1.4 million occurring in China.

Pollution is damaging sensitive marine ecosystems around the British coastline

Scientists have found that seagrass meadows off the coast of the British Isles are declining by seven per cent each year. Pollution is being blamed for the decrease, which could destroy a number of sensitive ecosystems.

Research from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows that global fishing catches are declining rapidly because of overfishing in previous years. However, the report fails to account for illegal fishing, which could mean the quantity of fish caught is much higher than estimated.

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Sustainable lifestyles

Analysts at investment banking firm Goldman Sachs have found that having children is more expensive than ever. According to their research, having more than two children can mean that household expenditure is up to one and a half times more than that of childless couples.

Over half of the UK's food supplies now come from abroad

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen have found that over half of the UK’s food supplies now come from abroad. It is estimated that there has been an increase in CO2 emissions of 15 per cent as a result of this increased reliance on overseas suppliers.

The number of cars on British roads has increased by 600,000 over the space of just one year. There are now around 26 million licensed cars in the UK — an increase of 1.6 million since 2011.

More >>   What you can do >>

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Population Matters Update is edited by Lily Chamberlain.


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We are pleased to welcome our new coordinators — James Craig, Luke Hecht, Christina Sexton, Hanae Taxis and Elisabeth tenCate — to the team.


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