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Intelligence vs. Something Worth Knowing

December 10, 2012 - There are, apparently, 16 national intelligence agencies in the U.S., and they have issued a report today about "major trends" the world faces in the 21st century.  Laughably, the "crisis-prone" global economy tops the list.  As for climate change ... the consensus amongst these 16 agencies, and the "academics, research institutions, political leaders, and corporations in 14 countries and the EU" with whom they collaborated, is that climate change will complicate resource management.  (Now would be a good time to take a deep breath.)  In addition,  they appear to express mild concern about the fact that it is happening faster than predicted.

Alright, alright - so the CIA is not the EPA.  They have vastly different missions.  I get that.  The intelligence and business communities do not take climate disruption into account because it's someone else's job, and besides, everyone knows that terrorism and the economy win the Importance Prizes.  Nothing surpasses the almighty dollar and the infamous [Muslim] terrorism scourge in importance.  In other words, the report's contents was determined by swell-headed idiots with egos the size of - Hurricane Sandy?

Now that we have that settled, we can pretty much relegate the resulting product to the same trash heap wherein rest similar forecasts.  A few amusing points: pre-2008 growth rates can no longer be expected, but no mention is made of peak fossil fuels.  Food and water shortages are given short shrift; the shift in power to a "multi-polar" world elicits much greater interest.  Enormous masses of data will be available to the state in the future, but no mention of the fact that analyzing it due to sheer volume will be impossible.  World population growth is viewed warily, but only because of a growing middle class that will want more things that they won't be able to have (the one reference to declining resources, i.e., peak everything). 

All of which makes the source of a new population control campaign not only surprising, but very welcome, as well.  It seems that a gentleman by the name of Richard Cizik is advocating contraception as a means of combatting climate change.  Cizik, an evangelical Christian minister, is widely known in that community for his leadership in environmental activism.  The founder of The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, he has also advocated on behalf of human rights, healthcare access, and an end to war.  That organization has recently pulished a booklet entitled Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning and Maternal and Children’s Health.  While the numbers cited in the publication strike me as extremely conservative, it invites discussion about a subject the importance of which has been heretofore very craftily downplayed.

The numbers I question are: “125 million women face … not having access to family planning.”  Is that true?  It sounds too low, to me.  “ … one in four births worldwide is unplanned…”  I would have guessed half.  “ … 42 million abortions each year … and 68,000 women’s deaths.”  While the 42 million sounds right, the 68,000 sounds very low.  “Death in childbirth takes one woman’s life per minute …”  Oh, how sad!  Plainly there is not just a need for contraception, but for reproductive healthcare, as well.  That, in fact, may be more the issue than contraceptive availability.  Finally, the New Evangelical Partnership’s booklet states that “The research is not ambiguous.  Contraception is credited with preventing an estimated 112 million abortions worldwide each year.”

That, in my opinion, is something worth knowing.  Knowledge worth acting upon.  Fewer people means less stress placed upon the earth’s ecosystems.  Fewer abortions means fewer maternal deaths.  Contraception and reproductive healthcare are very positive ways of bringing about positive change in our overpopulated world.


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