Monday, December 21, 2009

The climate for family planning

Ellen Goodman wrote a column about family planning and it is one of the best I have read in a long time. I will not take the time to provide an overview. So go and read the column. I am sure you will come away with a new perspective on the issue of overpopulation, carbon offsets and a little on climate change.

Overpopulation seems to be the elephant in the room. Even little is said about it when we discuss the overburdening of our planet's resources, climate change and the quality of life for all. At the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, I did not hear of any commitment to address overpopulation.

There is a series of articles in the News and Observer that addresses the plight of young girls pressured to marry at a young age, poor access to educational opportunities and lack of family planning in Africa. There has been an explosion of the population in much of Africa. The article mentions several obstacles of promoting birth control. They include patriarchal customs, religious taboos, ill-equipped public health systems---but experts also blame a powerful distant force. Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. withdrew from its decades-long role as a global leader in supporting family planning, driven by a conservative ideology that favored abstinence and shied away from providing contraceptives to developing countries even to married women.

I do not think that it is only our former president who created the population explosion in Africa, but I do believe that he could have made a major difference when he was in office if he had chosen to do so. As it was, he just added to the problem.

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