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Population - April 6

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U.N. Sees Falling Middle East Fertility Rates

Neil MacFarquhar, Dot Earth, New York Times
Eight of the 15 countries that experienced the biggest drop in population growth since 1980 are in the Middle East, led by Iran, United Nations population experts say.

Hania Zlotnik, director of the population division at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the shift suggests that education and access to family planning can play a far greater role than expected in reducing population growth, even in conservative Muslim states.

“In most of the Islamic world it’s amazing, the decline in fertility that has happened,’’ Ms. Zlotnik told reporters at a population conference this week.
(3 April 2009)

Chinese Hunger for Sons Fuels Boys’ Abductions

Andrew Jacobs, New York Times
The thieves often strike at dusk, when children are playing outside and their parents are distracted by exhaustion.

Deng Huidong lost her 9-month-old son in the blink of an eye as a man yanked him from the grip of his 7-year-old sister near the doorway of their home. The car did not even stop as a pair of arms reached out the window and grabbed the boy.

... The centuries-old tradition of cherishing boys — and a custom that dictates that a married woman moves in with her husband’s family — is reinforced by a modern reality: Without a real social safety net in China, many parents fear they will be left to fend for themselves in old age.

The extent of the problem is a matter of dispute. The Chinese government insists there are fewer than 2,500 cases of human trafficking each year, a figure that includes both women and children. But advocates for abducted children say there may be hundreds of thousands.
(4 April 2009)

Earth population 'exceeds limits'

Steven Duke, One Planet, BBC
There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government.

Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth's "limits of sustainability".

Dr Fedoroff has been the science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state since 2007, initially working with Condoleezza Rice.

Under the new Obama administration, she now advises Hillary Clinton.

"We need to continue to decrease the growth rate of the global population; the planet can't support many more people," Dr Fedoroff said, stressing the need for humans to become much better at managing "wild lands", and in particular water supplies.

Pressed on whether she thought the world population was simply too high, Dr Fedoroff replied: "There are probably already too many people on the planet."
(31 March 2009)

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