Bad New (or Good) | We Expect 300,000 Fewer Births Than Usual This Year – The New York Times

Melissa S. Kearney and 

Dr. Kearney is an economics professor at the University of Maryland. Dr. Levine is an economics professor at Wellesley College. In a report for the Brookings Institution last summer and an update in December, they predicted that the Covid pandemic would lead to a decline in U.S. births.

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Credit…Alice Proujansky for The New York Times

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the country into an economic recession and an unprecedented restructuring of our work and social lives. Early on, some likened the public health crisis to a blizzard, imagining that people would stay home, cozy up with their romantic partners and make babies.

These playful visions have given way to a more sobering reality: The pandemic’s serious disruption of people’s lives is likely to cause “missing births” — potentially a lot of them. Add these missing births to the country’s decade-long downward trend in annual births and we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes.

Research we did last year showed that the Covid pandemic would lead to a decline in U.S. births of about 8 percent, as compared with the number of expected births without a pandemic, resulting in 300,000 fewer births this year than would otherwise be expected. This prediction was based largely on the fact that economic factors affect people’s decisions about whether and when to have a baby.

There is a well-documented cycle to the nation’s birthrate: When the labor market is weak, aggregate birthrates decline; when the labor market improves, birthrates improve. At the individual level, there is also a well-documented link between changes in income and births: When income increases, people often expand their families; when people experience job or income loss, they have fewer children.” . . .

David Lindsay: This op-ed is so off base, it had me gasping for air, and giving it my middle finger, as I started shouting at the empty room. True, I can me very childish and silly.

I made a note to check and leave a thoughtful comment, but Holy Smokes, many articulate environmentalist beat me too it. The comments are terrific, and for they alone, I post the rubbish above.

Here are the three most recommended comments:

BC
New EnglandMarch 4
Times Pick

While this may have some negative economic impacts for humans, I would imagine there would be many gains for other species and the planet itself. We can adjust. Animals, on the other hand, are at our mercy in many ways, and will likely benefit greatly from a check in human population growth. I’ll call it a win.

1417 Recommended

June commented March 4

June
CharlestonMarch 4

This is wonderful news. We don’t need more human reproduction, we need less, much less. Climate change is causing massive human migration across the globe which will only accelerate. There are far, far too many humans on earth and a baby bust is good news.

16 Replies1050 Recommended

MNM commented March 4

MNM
AtlantaMarch 4
Times Pick

Covid threw into even sharper relief the immense challenges of parenting in American society. This is not an easy place to have a baby, y’all! Let’s see – you can be fired or laid off while pregnant, which means goodbye health insurance and goodbye FMLA (which is trash anyway – 12 weeks of unpaid leave is obscene.) Your childcare is going to cost as much as your mortgage – literally! The full-time daycare we planned to use (before I was laid off at seven months pregnant) was $1400/month. Our mortgage is $1500. Oh, don’t forget healthcare – our baby’s insurance premium is $425/month. Are you doing the math? If I hadn’t been laid off, that’s around a $1900/month minimum expense on one new family member. If politicians want Americans to have more babies – a goal I don’t necessarily agree with – they should start by making America less openly hostile to parents. Raise the minimum wage, ensure better protections for pregnant workers, establish 12-18 months of family leave so moms AND dads can stay home with their babies in those first precious and precarious months as a new family, mandate reasonable leave policies, create a national system of affordable childcare… I could go on. We choose to make life immensely challenging for parents and then wonder why so few Americans opt in to having a baby. People WANT children, but they also want to be able to give their children (and themselves) a life worth living.

14 Replies995 Recommended
Verity Makepeace
EcosseMarch 4

I’m not bothered. This planet cannot sustain our massive population. Why do humans still think they are the centre of the universe? Why can they not get past the fact that there are other species that depend on what this fragile earth can offer them for survival. It isn’t all about humans, you know. I’m not callous, but I am aware of the world around me and that biodiversity deserves a chance.

1 Reply686 Recommended

The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction – The New York Times

COUNT DOWN
How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race
By Shanna H. Swan with Stacey Colino

If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.

Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied this subject for more than two decades. Her work on falling sperm counts garnered worldwide attention in 2017. Media coverage focused on her central finding: From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59 percent. The quality also nose-dived, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Perhaps most important, the DNA they carried was also more damaged.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
What a disturbing and serious piece of reporting. Thank you Bijal P. Trivedi. This makes me want to protect myself, my family, my country and the world, but is there a silver lining? With 7.6 billion people now overpopulating the world, we are the new asteroid, causing the 6th extinction of species. Maybe our growing infertility is what saves us from destroying ourselves and our environment, stops us in our trajectory of being like another green algae bloom.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” on 18th century Vietnam and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | A Cataclysm of Hunger, Disease and Illiteracy – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“We think of Covid-19 as killing primarily the elderly around the world, but in poor countries it is more cataclysmic than that.

It is killing children through malnutrition. It is leading more people to die from tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. It is forcing girls out of school and into child marriages. It is causing women to die in childbirth. It is setting back efforts to eradicate polio, fight malaria and reduce female genital mutilation. It is leading to lapses in vitamin A distribution that will cause more children to suffer blindness and die.

The U.N. Population Fund warns that Covid-19 may lead to an additional 13 million child marriages around the world and to some 47 million women being unable to get access to modern contraception.

In short, a pandemic of disease, illiteracy and extreme poverty is following on the heels of this coronavirus pandemic — and it is hitting children hardest.”

David Lindsay:   This column makes me uncomfortable in several dimensions. The following comment in the NYT covers the elephant in the room:

USA

11m ago
Times Pick

Rampant overpopulation sets the stage for poverty, malnutrition, disease spread, and societal breakdown. Mr. Kristof needs to do more than mention population control in passing. He needs to address the cultural and religious factors that prevent women and the fathers of their children from limiting the number of children they bring into the world, often with no means of providing them with food or shelter. The pandemic will eventually be brought under control. Overpopulation is a far more widespread, destructive, long-term catastrophe.

6 Replies129 Recommended

Opinion | Mother Nature Scoffs at Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By

Opinion Columnist

 

“TEL AVIV — To get a different perspective on the Trump-Kushner peace plan, I decided to call the best Middle East analyst I know. Her name is Mother Nature.

So, Mother Nature, what did you think of the Deal of the Century?

Well, Tom, not a lot. For starters, it mentioned me in only a few short sentences. Let me take you on a tour of the neighborhood, as I see it. Warning: My maps have no boundary lines, no walls — and no Areas A, B and C in the West Bank.

You can be sure that President Trump, who has declared climate change a hoax, has no idea that the Eastern Mediterranean has experienced drought conditions for 15 of the last 20 years, which is unparalleled in the modern historical record. A recent study by Tel Aviv University predicts that the Eastern Mediterranean will get steadily hotter and drier and gradually lose two months of winter — i.e., rainfall months — within the next 25 years. Meanwhile, in 1948 Israel’s population was 800,000. It’s now 8.7 million. Jordan’s was 450,000. It’s now 10 million. Syria’s was three million, and it’s now 17.5 million. So, the future is steadily more people and less water.

What are the implications?

Israel used to pump up to 500 million cubic meters of water a year out of the Sea of Galilee, a freshwater lake, to meet domestic needs, including for agricultural fields in the south of Israel, to turn the desert green. In 2018, Israel could pump out only 30 million cubic meters!

In the summer of 2018, the Sea of Galilee was so low from droughts and water withdrawals for rising populations that it was threatening to become another saline lake, like the Dead Sea. You remember that Jesus walked on water in the Sea of Galilee? Well, you could have done that, too, because it was so low that two islands were visible in the middle of the lake.”

These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse But can we protect them? – Vox.com

By Eliza BarclayUmair Irfan, and Tristan McConnell
Photographs by Victor Moriyama, Ardiles Rante, and Sarah Waiswa

We traveled to protected areas deep inside these countries to learn the superpowers of three tree species that play an unusually important part in staving off environmental disaster, not just locally, but globally. These trees play many ecological roles, but most impressive is how they produce rainfall, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and support hundreds of other species.

If these ecosystems collapse, the climate effects are likely to be irreversible. And so what happens to these forests truly affects all life on Earth.

This is the story of three trees at the center of our climate crisis that provide big benefits to you, me, and the world. Meet the trees, get to know their superpowers, and learn how scientists are trying to protect them.

This project was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Meet the Amazon’sRAINMAKER

https://www.vox.com/a/supertrees?emci=402d9d87-b61d-ea11-a601-2818784d6d68&emdi=a18960b5-4e22-ea11-a601-2818784d6d68&ceid=1543337

There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

By 

Photographs by 

“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.

Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.

But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.

It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.

Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.

“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”

David Lindsay:  Comment to NYT

What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and  Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”

I must disagree completely.  Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists  are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.

Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents.[3] The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.[4]

Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “  They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.

This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.

David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion”  and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Your Kids Could Save Our Warming World – By Gracy Olmstead – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Olmstead is a writer.

CreditCreditJames Porter/Stone, via Getty Images Plus

“Many would-be parents in the millennial generation worry that bringing a child into this world might, in its effects, serve as a choice for more consumption, waste and damage to the planet. Others wonder whether the children conceived now might face a fate somehow worse than nonexistence in future years — a fate involving planetary apocalypse or catastrophe — and they don’t want to bring children into that future.

These fears have developed into an argument that suggests it is morally irresponsible to have kids (or at least to have too many). Indeed, at the Democratic presidential candidates’ climate change town hall, Bernie Sanders was asked about “the need to curb population growth,” suggesting that dissuading mothers around the world from having more children is a necessity for dealing with climate change.

I understand that, since the humans we bring into this world will also consume resources, there can be some fear among millennials that having children will make the problem of climate change worse. Still, I have made the choice to procreate — I have two daughters — even though I am concerned about climate change. And it’s important to argue for children and their parents and for the essential role they can both play in this urgent work of planetwide stewardship going forward.

The act of creation is opposed to the act of consumption: The latter suggests that everything exists to serve our needs and appetites, but the other reminds us of the value and goodness inherent in things themselves, and how creation encourages stewardship and responsibility.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Thank you Gracy Olmstead for a lovely piece of writing and set of points. I too became a better person because of my children, and the challenge of parenting. The commenters are pretty critical, and I understand their frustration. I find your points well written and thought out, but the overall presentation leaves out that with 7.6 billion people on the planet and increasing rates of species extinction, so severe that the topic is now refered to as the Sixth Extinction, that you do not seem willing to admit that there needs to be severe limits to human procreation. Maternity is a wonderful event, but each woman should have the right to chose whether to or not to procreate, and to prevent unwanted births to make for a healthier family, community, and environment.

Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall – The New York Times

By Letícia Casado and 

“BRASÍLIA — The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.

Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.

But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.

While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.

Seven months into his term, that is already happening.

Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the government agency that tracks deforestation.

In June alone, when the cooler, drier season began and cutting trees became easier, the deforestation rate rose drastically, with roughly 80 percent more forest cover lost than in June of last year.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment
This is a depressing but important story, thank you Casado and Londono. The United States should be organizing NATO to pressure Brazil, and if necessary, invade Brazil, and conduct regime change, to protect the Amazon rain forest, since most scientist are in agreement, that we can not survive without it. Since Trump won’t be interested, what is a concerned citizen of the world and environmentalist to do. We can start with a boycott of all things Brazilian, by willing countries, and in the US, by willing citizens. I’ve never liked boycotts, because they are slow and clumsy, and I do no know how to go about it with Brazil. But a boyocott of everything Brazillian, and especially their beef and soy bean producst, would be better than silence and despair.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” (of 18th centuryVietnam) and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Asylum Seekers Face New Restraints Under Latest Trump Orders – By Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Caitlin Dickerson – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President Trump on Monday ordered new restrictions on asylum seekers at the Mexican border — including application fees and work permit restraints — and directed that cases in the already clogged immigration courts be settled within 180 days.

In a memo sent to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Attorney General William P. Barr, the president took another step to reshape asylum law, which is determined by Congress, from the White House.

The restrictions do not take effect immediately. Mr. Trump gave administration officials 90 days to draw up regulations that would carry out his orders. They would be among the first significant changes to asylum policy since Mr. McAleenan replaced Kirstjen Nielsen as head of homeland security and the president signaled he would take a tougher stance on the asylum seekers swamping the border.

The administration has already tried to restrict the number of migrants who can apply for asylum per day, who qualifies for asylum and where they must wait for a resolution — immigration policies that have been the subject of multiple federal court cases.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment.
This asylum deluge of illegal immigrants is a mess, and it will not be easy to get right. Some on the left and humanists are right that we should try to take care of these poor people as humanely as possible, with food, shelter and basic care. But some on the right and environmentalists are right that we have to get control of our borders, and that we can not take in all the asylum seeking refugees in the world that would like to come here. I reference Thomas Friedman’s thoughtful pieces, where he says that the people in the countries of chaos are going to try to get into the countries of order. So we need a giant effort to address root causes. We should consider legalizing all addictive drugs, to cut down the markets that support the cartels, and we should consider helping Honduras close its northern border, so the giant refugee camps of the future are in Honduras, and not in the United States. Through family planning or war or neglect, we need to reduce the population numbers. The tragedy is that there are multiple problems, over population, illegal drug money, climate change related droughts and blights, disintegrating societies. I fear and tremble that we are not up to the task of dealing effectively with all these inter-related problems. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

In a Poor Kenyan Community Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections – The New York Times

Quote

By Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel
April 7, 2019,  11


NAIROBI, Kenya — Four days after her toddler’s health took a turn for the worse, his tiny body wracked by fever, diarrhea and vomiting, Sharon Mbone decided it was time to try yet another medicine.

With no money to see a doctor, she carried him to the local pharmacy stall, a corrugated shack near her home in Kibera, a sprawling impoverished community here in Nairobi. The shop’s owner, John Otieno, listened as she described her 22-month-old son’s symptoms and rattled off the pharmacological buffet of medicines he had dispensed to her over the previous two weeks. None of them, including four types of antibiotics, were working, she said in despair.

Like most of the small shopkeepers who provide on-the-spot diagnosis and treatment here and across Africa and Asia, Mr. Otieno does not have a pharmacist’s degree or any medical training at all. Still, he confidently reached for two antibiotics that he had yet to sell to Ms. Mbone.

“See if these work,” he said as she handed him 1,500 shillings for both, about $15.

via In a Poor Kenyan Community, Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Thank you Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel for a disturbing look at drug abuse. There is a temptation to give in to despair. One can take comfort from the fact that our descendents probably will not die from climate change and rapid species extinction, since long before we get to that gloomy future, we will all die from the super bugs we are carelessly creating. The saddest part is that we probably could fix these problems with a Marshall plan for family planning and basic medical and educational services. The superbugs are here, and more are coming. One could look at this looming disaster as a solution, rather than a problem. The biosphere is fighting back to save the world’s species from human over population. If humans don’t come to their senses, we will die off like an algae bloom in a lake, that kills itself by a dumb overpopulaiton that takes away all the oxygen. x David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.