Tag Archives: human

5 Ways the World Will Change Radically This Century

By Natalie Wolchover | LiveScience.com

In terms of evolution, the species Homo sapiens is extremely successful. The populations of other species that are positioned similar to us on the food chain tend to max out at about 20 million. We, by contrast, took just 120,000 years to achieve our first billion members, and then needed only another 206 years to add 6 billion more. According to the United Nations Population Division, our population will hit 7 billion on Oct. 31, and though fertility rates have begun to decline across much of the globe, we’re still projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century and level off at around 10 billion by 2100.

A panel of academics met at Columbia University’s Earth Institute on Monday (Oct. 17) to discuss the impacts of the human population explosion, including the ways in which it will change the face of the Earth this century. Here are five striking changes you — or your kids or grandkids — can expect to see.

Shifting people

Currently, it’s a well-known fact that China is the most populous country in the world, and that Africa, though riddled with problems, is not necessarily overpopulated considering its size. These facts will drastically change. China’s one-child policy has significantly curbed its growth, while in some African countries, the average woman gives birth to more than 7 children. [How Many People Can Earth Support?]

According to Joel Cohen, a population biologist at Columbia University and the keynote speaker at Monday’s conference, India’s population will overtake China’s around 2020, and sub-Saharan Africa’s will overtake India’s by 2040. Furthermore, “In 1950, there were three times as many Europeans as sub-Saharan Africans. By 2100, there will be five sub-Saharan Africans for every European. That’s a 15-fold change in the ratio,” Cohen said. “Could you imagine that that might have an impact, geopolitically and on international migration?”

Jean-Marie Guehenno, former UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations and director of the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, said the migration of people from Africa to Europe will present a major challenge in the near future. “You can look at it as an enormous potential from a European standpoint … or you can say, ‘[Africa] is a continent that still has 15 percent that are not going to school,’ and that can be seen as a threat,” Guehenno said. “How are you going to manage that immigration so that this aging continent of Europe benefits from it while managing it? That is going to be a huge question.”

Urbanization

Globally, the number of people living in urban areas matched and then overtook the number of rural people sometime in the past two years. The trend will continue. According to Cohen, the number ofpeople living in cities will climb from 3.5 billion today to 6.3 billion by 2050. This rate of urbanization is equivalent to “the construction of a city of a million people every five days from now for the next 40 years,” he said.

Of course, new cities don’t tend to get constructed; instead, cities that already exist tend to balloon. Guehenno argues that megacities become chaotic. “Urbanization is going to change the face of conflict in a big way. When you live in small towns and rural areas, there are all sorts of traditional conflict- resolution mechanisms. They are not all nice, but they create a sort of stable equilibrium,” he said. “With the megacities that you see now in Africa, such as Monrovia (Liberia) and Kinshasa (Republic of Congo), we see cities where the dynamics are no more under control or have been lost. We are, I think, heading toward new types of conflicts — urban conflicts — and we haven’t really thought through the implications of that.”

Water wars

Not only has the human population exploded in the past two centuries, but the per-person consumption of resources — especially in industrialized nations — has grown exponentially. Scientists think that resource shortages will cause an escalation of conflicts during this century, and will widen the gulf between the rich and the poor — the haves and the have-nots.

No resource is more precious and vital than water, and, according to economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia, there are already parts of the world that, because of the rapidly changing climate, are at a severe crisis point. “Take the Horn of Africa for example: Somalia’s population has risen roughly fivefold since the middle of the 20th century,” Sachs said. “Precipitation is down roughly 25 percent over the last quarter century. There’s a devastating famine under way right now after two years of complete failure of rains, and [there is] the potential that this is entering a period of long-term climate change.”

Conflicts over water shortages will probably play out as class warfare, said Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center. “Wealth inequality tends to grow as a country’s population grows, and this is a very important point to note because per capita consumption of resources has been increasing dramatically. Couple that with inequity in income and couple that with [the issue of] the availability of water,” Lall said. [How Much Water Is On Earth?]

When you add it all up, you get this dire picture: As the population grows, there is less water per person. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor widens, and the rich demand more resources to accommodate their lifestyles. Inevitably, they will commandeer the water and other resources of the poor. In all likelihood, Lall said, this will lead to challenges, and perhaps class conflict.

Future energy

Currently, there isn’t enough energy being extracted from known sources of fossil fuels to sustain 10 billion people. This means that humans will be forced to turn to a new energy source before the end of the century. However, it’s a mystery what that new source will be.

“Energy is the basic resource which underlies every other,” said Klaus Lackner, director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy. “And actually, technology is not quite ready to solve the [energy] problem. We know there’s plenty of energy in solar, in nuclear, in carbon itself — in fossil carbon — for probably 100 or 200 years (if we are willing to clean up after ourselves and pay the extra to make that happen). But none of these technologies are quite ready. Solar has its problems and is still too expensive.”

Carbon storage — a technology that prevents carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from escaping into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned — is still on the drawing board, though it looks possible, he added. “And lastly, nuclear energy: if we were betting on that, we may have just lost that one,” Lackner said, referring to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, earlier this year.

“Let me just give you a feeling how big today our energy consumption is: In New Jersey, the energy consumption exceeds the photosynthetic productivity of the same area if it were left pristine,” Lackner said. “We have to have technology help us out. I am optimistic … that the technologies can be developed to solve these problems … but I am a pessimist because we lack the societal structures which would enable us to employ these technologies, and we could very well fall on our own faces.”

In short, the future will match one of these two pictures: Either some new, superior form of energy extraction (such as highly efficient solar panels) will be widespread, or the technology, or its implementation, will fail, and humanity will face a major energy crisis.

Mass extinctions

As humans spread, we leave scant room or resources for other species. “There is good evidence that we are in the sixth massive species extinction of the history of the planet, because of the incredible amount of primary production that we take as a species to maintain 7 billion of us,” Sachs said.

Aside from the lack of land and resources left for other species, we’ve also caused rapid changes to the global climate, with which many of them cannot cope. Some biologists believe that with the current rate of extinction, 75 percent of the planet’s species will disappear within the next 300 to 2,000 years. These disappearances have already begun, and extinction events will become more and more common over the course of the century. [10 Species Our Population Explosion Will Likely Kill Off]

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/5-ways-world-change-radically-century-145807574.html

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By any means necessary….????

Drug war abuses by Mexican army rise sharply

By Mica Rosenberg

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Complaints of torture, murder and illegal detention by the Mexican army have jumped as soldiers have been dragged into a long, gruesome battle with powerful drug cartels, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Mexico’s national human rights commission received some 2,000 accusations of abuse by the military in 2008 and the first six months of 2009, a sharp jump from 367 complaints in 2007 and 182 in 2006, the rights group said in a report.

In one case documented by Amnesty, 31-year-old Saul Becerra was picked up in an army raid at a car wash in Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S.-Mexico border.

His body was found a year later and his death certificate showed he died the day after his detention of a severe brain hemorrhage from blunt-force trauma.

“The cases that we have been able to investigate are truly shocking. But what is more shocking is that we know that this is only the tip of the iceberg,” Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty’s Americas program, said in a statement.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed 49,000 soldiers across Mexico to combat the feuding drug cartels who control cocaine trafficking from South America, produce methamphetamines and grow marijuana for U.S. consumers.

The army has failed to curb violence with more than 16,000 people killed in the drug war since Calderon took office in late 2006 and the president risks losing public support for his military-backed crackdown.

In a sign of the intensity of the fight, suspected drug gang members attacked a police helicopter in the northern state of Durango on Tuesday, provoking a fierce battle with soldiers in which 10 assailants died, police and the army said.

Thousands of people protested against the army presence in Ciudad Juarez on Sunday, calling for troops to leave.

Mexico’s interior ministry said in a statement it would look seriously at Amnesty’s report and that the army was committed to protecting human rights.

Generals in Mexico City deny systematic rights abuses by soldiers and say any troops caught working for the cartels or failing to respect human rights are tried in military courts.

U.S. AID TIED TO RIGHTS

The army has taken on more policing roles because many of Mexico’s police forces are working for the drug gangs, and soldiers often clash with local law enforcement.

In March, 25 police officers were detained by the military, held incommunicado for 41 days and tortured to illicit false confessions, the Amnesty report said.

One police officer told human rights investigators how he was beaten for hours until he fainted and was given electric shocks on his feet and genitals.

Other people detained by the army said they were suffocated temporarily with plastic bags or told they would be executed.

The United States has promised Mexico $1.4 billion in aid to boost Calderon’s anti-drug campaign but so far only about 2 percent, or $26 million, has been spent in Mexico, said a recent report from the U.S. government accountability office.

Fifteen percent of the drug aid can be withheld if there are legitimate complaints of human rights abuses committed by the Mexican army. But President Barack Obama said on a visit to Mexico earlier this year that the drug traffickers were the biggest violators of human rights.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/091209/world/international_us_mexico_drugs


UN Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article I

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.

3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Language.aspx?LangID=eng


Human Rights Violations

Afghan women among worst off in world-rights group

By Golnar Motevalli

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan women are among the worst off in the world, violence against them is “endemic” and Afghanistan’s government fails to protect them from crimes such as rape and murder, a rights group said on Monday.

Human Rights Watch said in a report the situation for women in Afghanistan is “dismal in every area.”

“Women will not seek help because of their fears of police abuse and corruption, or their fears of retaliation by perpetrators of violence,” said the 96-page report, which is based on 120 interviews from different Afghan provinces.

Afghanistan is a deeply conservative, Muslim country where women have only been allowed to return to work and education since 2001, when the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-led forces.

“Whereas the trend had clearly been positive for women’s rights from 2001-2005, the trend now is negative in many areas … it is a reflection of the power of conservative leaders who want to deny women their basic rights,” the report said.

The report cites cases where rapists have been pardoned by the government, girls and women have been imprisoned for running away from home, rape victims have been charged with adultery and where women in public life have been murdered.

It comes a week after the United Nations said violence and rape against women in Afghanistan was a problem of “profound proportions.”

FORMER WARLORDS

When President Hamid Karzai was first elected president of Afghanistan in 2004, he appointed three women ministers. Five years on, the minister for women’s affairs is the last remaining female in the cabinet.

The report’s author said Karzai’s reliance on support from powerful former warlords has further restricted women from making progress in Afghan society and government, and attacks on women in public life seem to be worsening.

“There are definitely some negative trends and attacks on women in public life is one of those,” said Rachel Reid, Afghanistan researcher for the Washington-based rights group.

“As Karzai has weakened over the last few years he’s got more dependent on warlords, whose views are not that different from the Taliban often and that has an effect on women.”

A further sign that women’s status in Afghanistan is declining, the report said, is the introduction of the Shi’ite Personal Status Law, which caused an international outcry because some of its articles were seen to legalize marital rape.

Last week U.S. President Barack Obama announced an additional 30,000 U.S. troops for Afghanistan. Reid said his silence on women’s issues during his speech signaled that attacks against women in the war-raven country were permissible.

“It matters so much that on the presidential level, it matters from top to bottom that leaders in society, that men and women try to tackle the injustices that are meted out to women daily,” Reid said.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/091206/world/international_us_afghanistan_women