UC Berkeley Professor: A Condom Per Day Keeps Climate Change Away
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At a talk this week on “Condoms and Climate” given at the Commonwealth Club of California, leading author Alan Weisman and University of California, Berkeley Dr. Malcom Potts advocated for family planning as a means of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, reports Population Growth.
Weisman noted every 4.5 days a million people are added to the planet, saying “there is no question humans have become more numerous than nature intended.”
In Potts’ opinion, family planning is the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon and that voluntary family planning services are in demand.
There are 222 million women around the world who want to plan their families, but have an unmet need for modern contraception, he said. Making it available to women and men is estimated to cost $8 billion a year—about a billion dollars more than what Americans spent on Halloween in 2013.
Potts said “when you respect women and give them choices, fertility goes down” and that the world has been “blind and stupid” about not offering family planning to those who want it.
He pointed to Thailand’s success in lowering its total fertility rate in the 1970s. One such effort to reduce it was the innovative Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in Bangkok, started by a man who believed birth control should be as easy as buying cabbage from the market. The restaurant also promotes safe-sex education.
Weisman, who brought the discussion back toward climate change and population growth, stated the problem is simply that we have more people demanding more stuff, resulting in more carbon dioxide.
Last year, carbon dioxide levels hit 400 parts per million. “There hasn’t been this much carbon in the atmosphere in 3 million years,” he said. And with projections that world population will be 9.6 billion by 2050, with more middle and upper class people consuming more stuff, temperatures and carbon levels will continue to rise, according to Population Growth.
Potts believes by heavily investing in family planning, the population could decline to 6 billion by 2099.
In the meantime, addressing the needs of the planet's 7 billion-plus is a daunting task, especially in terms of food. And even though Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution averted mass famine in the 1970’s, people can't solely rely on technology to rectify the problem. In fact, Weisman said Borlaug warned this would only buy humanity a little time and that it would have to eventually confront burgeoning population growth.
Weisman, saying a warming world is only going to exacerbate food security, cited a National Academy of Science report statistic that for every one degree of Celsius warming, crop yields drop 10 percent.
Reducing consumption also proves critical, according to Weisman, as he called out the global meat industry for 51 percent of worldwide greenhouse emissions.
Some of the best solutions, said Potts, are universal family planning, investing in girls’ education, raising the age of marriage and ending child marriage.
These are the comprehensive steps that can lower carbon footprints and result in healthier lives and a cleaner, more stable environment, he said.
Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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