Time and again society is stuck with variously identifying people as variously 'unfit parents'. We 'breed' -most of us, because it's 'the natural thing to do' -not exactly unattached with 'care in our old age'. More or less clearly then, 'voting one's ignorance' -democracy, is most unlikely to 'optimize' attrition from unsustainable overpopulation before irreversible corruption of the resource/environment. That said, along with 'slamming down the gates of immigration', I also suggested offering life-long stipends of a sort to 'unfit parents' in exchange for sterilization -only a matter of time in any case. -The main column here is a measure of that.

The article below that is not unrelated.
March 21, 2010 Los Angeles Times
Family planning effort
Colombian peasants wooed with land to adopt family planning

Erwin Goggel, heir to a dairy fortune, is offering land, rent-free, to peasants who undergo sterilization. He hopes to break the cycle he believes is perpetuated by large families.
By Chris Kraul -Reporting from Abibe, Colombia

Think of the 10 women who just had their fallopian tubes tied at a clinic in northern Colombia as foot soldiers in Erwin Goggel's lonely war on overpopulation and poverty.
   A film producer and heir to a dairy fortune, Goggel is offering nine-acre plots rent-free to poor men and women who agree to have vasectomies and tubal ligations. He pays for all the surgical procedures, including the 10 operations performed late last month in Monteria, the capital of Cordoba state, about 30 miles south of here.
   Goggel, a 61-year-old father of two who had a vasectomy 10 years ago, says his offer is aimed at alleviating Colombia's grinding poverty, which he insists is directly proportional to the size of peasant families. If population growth trends persist, he predicts an apocalyptic future for Colombia and the planet.
   "The middle-class lifestyle as we know it, with a car, a refrigerator and a good education for the kids, is out of the question for these people," said Goggel, whose shock of gray curly hair hints at his hippie past. "They are in a vicious cycle that a high rate of reproduction perpetuates. Big, poor families are in an economic hole that they can't see out of."
   So far about 46 couples, the majority with three or four children, have taken him up on the offer. Most are landless sharecroppers or day laborers native to the region who have settled in this village and grow subsistence crops of plantain, beans and sesame seeds. Goggel is distributing 25 more parcels this month.
   "It was not a hard decision at all. Before Erwin, every day was a struggle to survive. Now I can live on what I produce," said Anibal Del Rio, 34, father of four. "More than one guy has made fun of me, saying I've been castrated, that I'll leave women behind. But I don't mind. What matters is what I think, not what others say."
   Goggel acknowledges that the response has been less than overwhelming to the offer he first made in 2002. He blames "machismo and ignorance" about vasectomies and the fact that he doesn't give the peasants who take up his offer title to the land, allowing instead "sanctioned squatting."
   Vasectomies and tubal ligations are legal in Colombia, but the Roman Catholic Church, a powerful social force, frowns upon them. So far, however, Goggel said, the church hasn't put any obstacles in his way.
   "We are still very small scale," he said. "The church probably figures, why make a fuss?"
   Public health professor Gloria Garay agrees with Goggel to a point, but worries that focusing on reproductive habits deflects attention from the responsibilities of the state to provide for its poorest citizens.
   "It's not just individual behavior but also social policy that sometimes keeps us from maintaining conditions of human dignity," said Garay, who is with the National University of Colombia in the capital, Bogota. "Keep in mind that as much as we've reduced the birthrate in recent decades, half the country still lives in poverty."
   Goggel's hopes that other landowners and even the Colombian government would embrace his idea have so far come to nothing. Ricardo Gonzalez, the director of Goggel's House and Land Foundation, said one neighboring landowner responded to Goggel's request that he give land to the poor by saying: "The only thing I'll give you is a bullet in the head."
   Still, Goggel, who has spent more than $500,000 to buy 900 acres for the program, says he will press on. He will not change his current practice of not transferring deeds to the families, fearing some would sell the property and revert to the rootless lifestyles many led.
   That would defeat one purpose of his program: to provide a stable environment for the children of the poor couples, Goggel said. So, instead his foundation holds the title to the parcels.
   "We're trying to give the country an idea how to approach the problem, hoping for a snowball effect," Goggel said. "But most people don't see the planet is doomed. They are face down in their own bowl of soup and can't see any farther."
   Even those who do not share Goggel's apocalyptic view of the future agree that Colombia's birthrate is high and contributes to the poverty rate.
   According to a United Nations survey, Colombia has a birthrate of 20.6 annual births per 1,000 inhabitants, above the relatively high Latin American average of 19.1 births, and 50% higher than the United States' rate of 13.83.
   More distressing, said Garay, the public health professor, is the surge in teenage pregnancies to 90 births per 1,000 girls in 2005 from 70 in 1985.
   "This is causing alarm, above all because the girls are getting pregnant despite knowing all the consequences that early maternity brings," said Garay, who maintains that sex education has improved in recent years.
   Goggel's late father, Walter, emigrated from Switzerland and founded the Alpina dairy company near Bogota in 1945. The company since has grown into one of Latin America's largest dairy producers. But Erwin showed little interest in business. He pursued social causes and a career in theater and film production.
   A self-described former Maoist, Goggel said it was his effort to establish an ecological reserve near here that opened his eyes to the region's grinding poverty. When wild animals such as armadillos, iguanas and herons kept disappearing, he discovered that peasants were capturing and eating them to survive.
   Further investigation showed that peasant families, often with six, seven or eight children, "were living in terrifying misery and that their vision of the future extended no farther than avoiding hunger for a day."
   Each generation was worse off. "It was the exception to come across sons who were better off than their fathers."
   Asked how she and her husband had made out since accepting Goggel's offer last June, Marta Acosta, a 26-year-old mother of two, said life had improved.
   "Even with the two children we have, it's still a battle against hunger. But I didn't want to reach the point of choosing which child to give Christmas presents to," she said.
   "How many more children does the world need, or must God send?"
Kraul is a special correspondent.

[-back to options at the top(*1)]

Page 2
March 21, 2010 Los Angeles Times
Sandstorm sweeps into Beijing

The sky turns orange and residents are warned of the hazards.

Beijing Tons of sand turned Beijing's sky orange Saturday as the strongest sandstorm this year hit northern China.
   A thin dusting of sand covered the capital, causing workers and tourists to muffle their faces in vast Tiananmen Square. The city's weather bureau gave air quality a rare hazardous ranking.
   Air quality is "very bad for the health," China's national weather bureau warned. It said people should cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows closed.
   China's expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought. The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms, the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States.
   The Chinese Academy of Sciences has estimated that the number of sandstorms has jumped sixfold in the last 50 years to two dozen a year.

A woman in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, contends with sand as best she can. (Associated Press / March 20, 2010)
Associated Press

   The latest sandstorm also hit the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei, affecting about 250 million people over an area of 312,000 square miles, the state-run New China News Agency reported.
   As the sandstorm moved southeast, South Korea's national weather agency issued an advisory for Seoul and other parts of the country.
   Chun Youngsin, a researcher at the Korea Meteorological Administration, said the storm would produce "the worst yellow dust" this year.
   Some flights at Beijing's international airport were delayed but eventually took off, said a woman answering phones at the airport hot line.
   Skies cleared in the city by midday, but a warning of more dusty weather remained.
   "I think this kind of natural disaster is caused by human activity, but I don't know the exact reason, and I don't know exactly what we can do to prevent this," said Beijing resident Shi Chun- yan.
   China has planted thousands of acres of vegetation in recent years to stop the spread of deserts in its north and west, but experts have said the work will take decades.
   And the pressures of China's development aren't easing. "Arid and semiarid areas can only support one or two people per square kilometer [about 0.4 square mile]. In China, population density in these areas is over 10 people per square kilometer," Jiang Gaoming, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany, wrote for the online environmental magazine China Dialogue in 2007.
   The residents once were nomads, "but now they have settled, increasing the pressure on the environment and inevitably damaging it."
   The worst recent sandstorm to hit Beijing was in 2006, when about 300,000 tons of sand were dumped on the capital.

[-back to options at the top(*1)]

Page 3