The Best News You Don’t Know, by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“The world is a mess, with billions of people locked in inescapable cycles of war, famine and poverty, with more children than ever perishing from hunger, disease and violence.That’s about the only thing Americans agree on; we’re polarized about all else. But several polls have found that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same over the last 20 years.

Fortunately, the one point Americans agree on is dead wrong. As world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly this week, all the evidence suggests that we are at an inflection point for the ages. The number of people living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per person per day) has tumbled by half in two decades, and the number of small children dying has dropped by a similar proportion — that’s six million lives a year saved by vaccines, breast-feeding promotion, pneumonia medicine and diarrhea treatments!Historians may conclude that the most important thing going on in the world in the early 21st century was a stunning decline in human suffering.

O.K., you’re thinking that I’ve finally cracked up after spending too much time in desperate places. So a few data points:
■ As recently as 1981, when I was finishing college, 44 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Now the share is believed to be less than 10 percent and falling. “This is the best story in the world today,” says Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank.
■ For the entire history of the human species until the 1960s, a majority of adults were illiterate. Now 85 percent of adults worldwide are literate and the share is rising.
■ Although inequality has risen in America, the global trend is more encouraging: Internationally, inequality is on the decline because of gains by the poor in places like China and India.The U.N. aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and experts believe it is possible to get quite close. In short, on our watch, we have a decent chance of virtually wiping out ills that have plagued humanity for thousands of generations, from illiteracy to the most devastating kind of hand-to-mouth poverty.” ”

Source: The Best News You Don’t Know – The New York Times

Please read the entire op-ed piece before reading my comment below.

Great piece Saint Nick, thank you.
I wish I were fully on board, but I’m not. Overpopulation is now threatening the majority of species, and might end the run of humans. We are in the Anthropocene, and witnessing the Sixth Extinction. We have gone from 2 to 7.5 billion humans in just 100 years. Tom Friedman reported this last month that the world famous Edward O Wilson of Harvard, an entomolgist, predicts that in the next 84 years, we are on course to lose 85% of all the species on the planet. Your good news ignores that the population growth rates in Africa are out of control, and the growth rates you mention as an improvement, might not be low enough to save us from destroying life on earth as we know it.
What I love about your piece, is that you focus on the misery, the pain and suffering index, which is laudable. But I fear the Sixth Extinction is real, the great water and resources wars are coming, and it should be all hands on deck for reducing world population to a sustainable level for the biosphere, and life on this planet that we enjoy, as we continue to poison and rape it.

The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

“MOST Westerners facing criminal charges in Cambodia would be thanking their lucky stars at finding themselves safe in another country. But Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who is half British and half Spanish, is pleading with the Phnom Penh government to allow him back to stand trial along with three Cambodian colleagues. They’ve been charged, essentially, with interfering with the harvesting of one of the 21st century’s most valuable resources: sand.

Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air. Sand is the thing modern cities are made of. Pretty much every apartment block, office tower and shopping mall from Beijing to Lagos, Nigeria, is made at least partly with concrete, which is basically just sand and gravel stuck together with cement. Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings.

Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out.”

Source: The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

Not many comments yet on this article, but the few I reviewed are excellent, such as:

ando arike

Brooklyn, NY 2 hours ago

“Nearly a fifty years ago, MIT scientists released a computer-modeled study that was published, to great acclaim and controversy, as “Limits to Growth,” predicting a collapse of industrial civilization in the first half of the 21st century. The collapse would be caused, according to their forecast, by growth — in the economy, in population, in pollution, in consumption of finite resources. The depletion of sand described by Mr. Beiser here is yet another sign that those limits to growth have been reached — indeed, surpassed. Where is the leadership humanity needs to reverse our suicidal trajectory of growth, growth, growth? As the environmentalist Edward Abbey put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” “

Out of Africa, Part II A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families.|By Thomas L. Friedman

Tom Friedman at his best: “Ndiamaguene, SENEGAL — I am visiting Ndiamaguene village in the far northwest of Senegal. If I were giving you directions I’d tell you that it’s the last stop after the last stop — it’s the village after the highway ends, after the paved road ends, after the gravel road ends and after the desert track ends. Turn left at the last baobab tree.

It’s worth the trek, though, if you’re looking for the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya. It starts here.

A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families.|By Thomas L. Friedman

Thank you Tom Friedman for your excellent work here. The problems revealed boggle the mind, but let me dare raise some ideas. There is an international disaster brewing caused by a population explosion, exacerbated by climate change, and the population explosion definitely makes the climate change problem worse.

The wealthy countries can either sit out the population growth crisis, or intervene. Over history, the population explosions in places like China, when combined with drought, often led to civil war and massive starvation and cannibalism. Europe had wars and plagues. We could chose these traditional solutions today, but for the first time, the suffering would be broadcast on television, and we would have to watch it or turn it off. Also, we have the knowledge and means to find a more humane solution.

An intervention by the United Nations or its proxy would have to focus on an exchange. The haves would supply food, water and housing in exchange for either family planning or sterilization. Mathias Weitz commented after your piece: “The African population doubled from 1982 to 2009, and quadrupled from 1955 to 2009. The main cause of the desertification in the Sahel is overgrazing by an ever growing population.”  I wish to remind readers that world population just went from 2 to 7 billion in less than a hundred years.

Family planning might include IUD’s for every woman, but like the mosquito nets in Kenya, the baubles might be diverted to other purposes, like necklace decorations. Enforced family planning or sterilization are not pleasant ideas, but following the massive suffering and killing in the evening news, while our own climate keeps changing for the worse, will have its own drawbacks. Seven billion humans and growing, is a force in nature causing the sixth extinction. We are literally destroying thousands of other species by our fecundity, and risking our own future.


Birds that once feasted on misfortune are collapsing — part of a broader decline in vultures that illustrates the far-reaching effects of human interventions.|By MARC SANTORA

Sometimes I feel like the guy in the old cartoon, who is holding up a sign that says, The end is near!

Birds that once feasted on misfortune are collapsing — part of a broader decline in vultures that illustrates the far-reaching effects of human interventions.|By MARC SANTORA

When Humans Declared War on Fish — NYTimes

“Taken collectively, the rise of postwar fishing technology meant that the global reported catch rose from some 15 million metric tons at war’s end to 85 million metric tons today — the equivalent, in weight, of the entire human population at the turn of the 20th century, removed from the sea each and every year.

Only the turn of the third millennium saw a new kind of reprieve, this time not caused by human adversity, but by the insight that we need to make peace with other species as well. Growing signs of exhaustion and failure in global fisheries made humans reconsider the totality of their assault.”

Victory in 1945 meant a new era of violence against ocean life.|By Paul Greenberg and Boris Worm

Nicholas Kristof calls for saving the Rohingya boat people. Can we save them, and also stop the Sitxth Great Extinction?

Thank you Saint Nicholas for challenging us. I have to admit I fall short. I am almost obsessed with concern about climate change, which is caused probably by over-population. I’m reading the Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, which is a book about how seven billion people are causing a giant extinction of species, as many kills as during the other great extinction periods.
Al Gore reported, it took almost 200,000 years for humans to reach one billion, around 1776. Humans then doubled to two billion people at the end of World War II, just 169 years later . Seventy years later, today we have jumped to seven billion humans. It is awkward to press countries like Malasia into accepting other nations’ refugees, when they have their share of over-population and ecological stress.
It seems right that we help organize the Nations of the world to alleviate refugee suffering and death, but there needs some recognition that too many people is a main cause of resource scarcity and tribal tension world wide. I am embarrassed to admit, that I am more concerned with the extinction of the African elephant, than with the saving of Rohingya boat people. Though I care about both, which is more pressing? Perhaps we could help the Rohingya, if we are willing to accept as refugees our share of their displaced numbers, whereas refusing them, forces them to work on their situation where they live. You are probably right, that there must be a civilized solution, but the most efficient would include keeping these people in the lands they come from.

American and Asian officials seem determined to avert their eyes as the toll climbs in the Rohingya refugee crisis.|By Nicholas Kristof

The American Way of Birth: Why Do Republicans Hate It? –

The American Way of Birth: Why Do Republicans Hate It? –

I think Lawrence Downes is off on the wrong rampage supporting the 14th amendment, to put it politely. The 14th amendment says any child born here is automatically a citizen. It was important after the Civil War, to protect ex-slaves.

World population has grown since the end of WW II from 2 Billion to 7 Billion. The US needs a much better safety net, but not for all the unemployed of the earth. We need to close our borders, and reduce income inequality, create jobs for the poor and minorities, strapped with police records and jail time. But other countries should take care of their own over population problem. The US should help other nations with sustainable development as much as we can. It is weird and improper, that Chinese fly to Los Angeles to have their babies, and then fly back to China. I am not a right wing quack, I am a moderate Independent, who is quacking harder and harder about climate change,  sustainability and what is now called the 6th great extinction of species, which is caused by an over abundance of humans.

China plans to damn all the great rivers of Tibet. Neighbors cry.

Inconvenient News Worldwide

Important piece by Michael Buckley, NYT. The U.S. should study these issues from the perspective of China’s neighbors downstream. The most popular comment to date:
Zhanjiang, PRC      “The water wars of the 21st century are just beginning and the countries with the best militaries will prevail. Sadly hardly a govt. in the world is willing to discuss the real problem which is that there are just way too many people. Closer to home, take the situation in California where despite the drought we are still adding more homes and people and the govt. has as of yet to come with any sensible plans for dealing the the desertification that is occurring.”

It might be time to start a trade war with China to support Tibetan independence, and a China-free South China Sea. It might be good to start by finding a new name for the sea…

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