Oops, you just missed World Vasectomy Day

…but you don’t have to wait until next year…


<img src=”http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/worldvasday.jpg?w=1536&h=864&crop=1″>

World Vasectomy Day

Balls In Your Court

I watched a bunch of scrotums get snipped and it was totally fine

When people talk about contraception, it’s almost always discussed as a woman’s issue. Hell, even when I pitched this series on safe sex and how it relates to climate, I framed it as coverage of women’s issues and really didn’t think twice about it. This makes exactly zero sense, because it takes the equal participation of both sexes to create a child. That’s biology!

And yet, the opportunities to equally share the responsibilities of birth control are few and far between. An anecdote from my own real life experience: When attempting to buy Plan B at a drugstore with the guy who had necessitated the purchase, the cashier refused to split the charge on both of our cards. “I can’t do it,” she said. “Not possible,” the manager reiterated, as the line to the register rapidly grew behind us. And then, gravely: “Only one can pay.” The metaphor was a bit too real.

Men have two favors to distribute at the family planning party, basically: Condoms and vasectomies. Condoms are great for a lot of reasons — they protect against STDs, first and foremost, and they require almost no advance planning. But as far as preventing pregnancy goes, their effectiveness rate is not great. In fact, if a woman depends on condoms as her primary form of contraception over a period of 10 years, with typical use, there’s an 86 percent chance that she will have an unintended pregnancy during that time. (Re: Failure with “typical use” — please see Plan B story above.)

Vasectomies, admittedly, are a pretty extreme option. They’re surgical and permanent — although they are reversible, albeit only by undergoing a second surgery — and a lot of men are fairly apprehensive about someone going in and snipping things in their scrotum. (That’s the technical medical description of the operation, FYI.)*

But in the words of Greg Hanscom, Grist Senior Editor and Designated Office Dad — so he has experience in this matter! – “dudes need to step the fuck up.”

Dr. Doug Stein co-founded World Vasectomy Day — which falls on November 7 — to encourage men to consider stepping the fuck up, so to speak. How exactly does one commemorate World Vasectomy Day? By performing some strategic snips live at a Planned Parenthood in Kissimmee, Fla., in front of an audience, broadcast to the world.

“But not more than I normally would on a Friday,” Stein clarifies. “What’s different in what I’m doing on World Vasectomy Day is opening up conversations about men’s role in family planning. What we’ve done is offer to do vasectomies for free for any man who is willing to go public.”

Why the emphasis on vasectomies as opposed to other forms of birth control? Well, ladies, raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced some shitty side effects of birth control. (At 17, I spent my first three months on the pill waking up and curling into the fetal position on the bathroom floor from nausea and dizziness. Not to mention the worst skin of my life! Hooray!) The beauty (or injustice, depending on your perspective) of the human anatomy is that man parts are more easily accessible than lady parts, which makes long-acting or permanent contraception methods for men both less risky and easier-to-perform than options for women.

“A vasectomy draws a man into the realm of reproductive responsibility, something which has traditionally been the role of women,” says Stein. “[But] the contraceptives that women use all have a set of risks … [And] tubal ligation for women is a more difficult procedure, it has a higher failure rate, it has a greater complication rate, and when it fails it often results in a tubal pregnancy rather than a healthy pregnancy. So it really behooves men to step up to the plate.”

I’m a feminist, and also just a decent human, so I figured: If I’m going to advocate for men to take some reproductive responsibility, I’d like to confirm that their options don’t suck. I took it upon myself to watch the livestreaming of three (3) vasectomies, performed by Dr. Stein, on World Vasectomy Day.

Here is what I can report: It appears to be significantly more comfortable than getting, say, a Pap smear. Or, for a comparison both sexes can appreciate, a teeth cleaning.

In conclusion: If you’re a dude, and you’ve decided that your child-having years are over — or you’ve thought long and hard about it and you don’t want any children at all — the physical procedure of locking your sperm in the garage is actually not such a big deal. And if safe sex is going to be easy and hassle-free for everyone involved — well, it just makes sense that both parties should be willing to participate equally in making it so.

So, men, I can tell you with some certainty: Your options are fine. Great, even. And your one trip to the urologist would mean far fewer to the gynecologist for us. If you happen to get a chance to watch a live-stream of a speculum in action**, you might understand why that’s a pretty fair deal.

*It’s not.

Stay Tuned…

I’ll be away from the blog for a few days (possibly a week), so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are some links to articles that didn’t end up here, but which I sent to Exposing the Big Game’s Facebook site:







These 14 States Have a Plan for Climate Change. The Rest of You Are Screwed.



A comprehensive look at the progress states are making in preparingfor climate change. Click to see the interactive map. Georgetown Climate Center

“…how easy it is to do nothing” and other Ouotes On Overopulation

Sir David Attenborough – naturalist b1926
“The human population can no longer be allowed to grow in the same old uncontrolled way. If we do not take charge of our population size, then nature will do it for us.”

Jane Goodall – conservationist b1934
“It’s our population growth that underlies just about every single one of the problems that we’ve inflicted on the planet. If there were just a few of us, then the nasty things we do wouldn’t really matter and Mother Nature would take care of it — but there are so many of us.”

Michael Palin – comedian b1943
“The greatest politically charged challenge facing our planet? Unchecked population growth.”

Helen Mirren – actor b1945
“…I think still it is very fine not to want children. There are far too many people in the world. It is my contribution to ecology.”

Gore Vidal – writer 1925 – 2012
“Think of the Earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every 40 years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”

Jeremy Irons – actor b1948
“One always returns to the fact that there are just too many of us, the population continues to rise and it’s unsustainable.”

Jane Fonda – actor and activist b1937
“There’s lots to worry about these days but you know what worries me most: the news I read day before yesterday that by something like 2045 there will be 10 billion people on the planet — or more! I’m scared. I’ll be gone but I am scared for my grandchildren and for the wild animals and for the whole human race.”

Isaac Asimov – author 1920 – 1992
“…democracy can not survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

“Which is the greater danger — nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to do something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally — and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing.”


As the Population of Humans Doubles, the Number of Animals Halves

It’s unbelievable to me that in the year 2014—going on ’15—the media still does hyperbolic backflips every time some celebrity gets pregnant or decides it might be fun to become a daddy, as if human reproduction is some mysterious miracle we should all be awed by. Well, there’s only so much awe I can take before something becomes truly awful–especially in light of the fact that every new human born equates to less biodiversity for everyone.

That’s something I’ve known for a long time. Now, recent studies have officially confirmed that in the forty-six years since human overpopulation was first recognized as a serious problem, our numbers have more than doubled, while the number of naturally occurring animals is half of what it was then.

I’ve seen countless distressing instances of human “success” negating thatelk-000-home17300 of the rest of Earth’s creatures. The most vivid recent example pitted a new Costco, Home Depot and the site of a soon-to-be future Walmart against an elk herd’s migration corridor. Where stately Roosevelt elk once freely travelled between protected park lands, a lit-up strip mall and associated blacktop parking lots now spell the sad end for wildlife and wilderness alike.

In a scene played over and over across anywhere USA, more land is taken up by more lanes of highway so more people can visit more superstores. More and more road-kill results finally in fatality for a few humans, and before you know it, a “cull” is implemented on whatever wild species dares to stand in the way of human “progress.”

Throughout the land you can hear the battle cry: “Out of the way, animals, we’ve got diapers and baby carriages to buy.”


We Owe It to the Earth


The cat’s been under the weather for the past few days—sleeping a lot, acting a bit lethargic, not wanting to go out as much as usual. It wouldn’t have seemed like such a panic situation, but this was the same cat who was poisoned a few months ago by ingesting second hand d-Con. The country vet noted that Caine had a fever, but was encouraged that his body was fighting off whatever kitty-virus he’d picked up.

An analogy can be made here with human beings, of course in the role of the virus and the Earth as the hearty body with a strong urge to survive trying to fight us off. As tempting as it is to chalk this epoch off as one big human screw-up—sit back and watch the fireworks, so to speak—we owe it to the Earth to give way and allow her every advantage in her effort to shake off the disease that’s got her down.

While it might be hard to swallow that humans will eventually do the right thing, it would be hasty to underestimate the self-healing powers of our planet herself. All we’d need to do is quit adding to the problem by bringing more humans mouths into the fray and change our hedonistic, carnivistic ways. Otherwise, the Earth will inevitably rear up and scream, “Enough!” Life on Earth has survived more adversity than we can dish out. The question is, do humans want to still be a part of the living planet once the Earth is through with her healing?


A population bomb is killing us

“…It’s ‘impossible to feed 10 billion people.’ We don’t need more farmers, we need fewer small mouths to feed.”…

[I would add that the root problem responsible for overpopulation is human arrogance and the scourge of speciesism. Once we address that, we can move beyond mass-denial and take a serious, scientific look at this planet’s carrying capacity in relation to human overpopulation.]


Climate change isn’t the problem. A population bomb is killing us

Humans are doing nothing to stop their own self-destruction

By Paul B Farrell

…Population is out of control. That’s the world’s No. 1 problem. Yet we’re trapped in mass denial. Nobody’s dealing with the world’s biggest problem. Listen:

    • Scientific American says global population growth is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” By 2050 world population will explode from today’s 7 billion to 10 billion, with 1.4 billion each in India and China. With China’s economy nearly three times America’s.
    • Billionaire philanthropists met secretly in Manhattan five years ago: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey and others. Each took 15 minutes to present their favorite cause. Asked what was the “umbrella cause?” They all agreed: Overpopulation, said the billionaires. But they’re still silent today.
    • Our collective conscience is trapped in massive conspiracy. In “The Last Taboo,” Mother Jones columnist Julia Whitty hit the nail on the head: “What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives and scientists in a conspiracy of silence? Population.” But this hot-button issue ignites powerful reactions. Yet politicians won’t touch it. Nor will U.N.’s world leaders. Even when it’s killing us. Cowards talking a good game.
  • Jeremy Grantham’s investment firm GMO manages about $110 billion in assets. He also funds an Institute of Climate Change at London’s Imperial College. He warns, population growth is a huge “threat to the long-term viability of our species, when we reach a population level of 10 billion.” Why? It’s “impossible to feed 10 billion people.” We don’t need more farmers, we need fewer small mouths to feed.

But how? Bill Gates says we must cap global population at 8.3 billion, even as his vaccine and contraceptive plans extend life expectancy. But Columbia University’s Earth Institute Director Jeff Sachs says even 5 billion is too many. Stop adding more babies? Virtually impossible. So how do we not add a billion? Or subtract two billion from today’s seven billion total? Voluntary? Remember how China’s one-child plan failed.

World’s biggest problem — out-of-control population — has no solution?

Worst-case scenario: There is no solution. Overpopulation is going to drive the world off a cliff. And seems nobody really cares. Nobody’s working on the real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. A denial that’s killing us.

Any real solutions? Just wait for wars, pandemics, starvation to erase billions? Wait in denial? But will wars, disease, poverty solve Earth’s biggest problem, the problem no one wants to talk about? Meanwhile, Big Oil’s marketing studies keep telling CEOs like Tillerson the truth about the inconsistent behavior of irrational humans living in denial. To Big Oil, population growth is good, more customers, essential for economic growth.

Yes, we just keep telling ourselves we’re recyclers, green, love hybrids, eat organic.

Even as we just keep adding to the billion autos on the planet, keep buying Big Oil stocks for retirement, keep stocking up on carbon polluting products. Why? Our subconscious secretly endorses Big Oil’s strategy. As Tillerson once told Charlie Rose in BusinessWeek: “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do,” making “quality investments for our shareholders.” It’s a subtle conspiracy.

Is it already too late? Will we ever stop our insane suicidal obsession?

Don’t bet on it. Watching how America’s dysfunctional government solves problems lately is not encouraging.

Millennium ago dinosaurs disappeared. Didn’t know what hit them in the last great species extinction. They vanished forever. Forever. The planet never brought them back. Today humans know what’s ahead. We can make the big, tough decisions … if only we wake up in time … if only we have the will to act … before it really is too late.

Paul B. Farrell is a MarketWatch columnist based in San Luis Obispo, Calif

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise

New study overturns 20 years of consensus on peak projection of 9bn and gradual decline



World population increase most in Africa: Crowded Oshodi Market in Lagos, Nigeria.
A crowded Oshodi market in Lagos, Nigeria – the country’s population is expected to soar from 200m today to 900m by 2100. Photograph: James Marshall/Corbis

The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.

“Population policy has been abandoned in recent decades. It is barely mentioned in discussions on sustainability or development such as the UN-led sustainable development goals,” said Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, a thinktank supported by naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist James Lovelock. “The significance of the new work is that it provides greater certainty. Specifically, it is highly likely that, given current policies, the world population will be between 40-75% larger than today in the lifetime of many of today’s children and will still be growing at that point,” Ross said.

Many widely-accepted analyses of global problems, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment of global warming, assume a population peak by 2050.

Sub-saharan Africa is set to be by far the fastest growing region, with population rocketing from 1bn today to between 3.5bn and 5bn in 2100. Previously, the fall in fertility rates that began in the 1980s in many African countries was expected to continue but the most recent data shows this has not happened. In countries like Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, the decline has stalled completely with the average woman bearing six children. Nigeria’s population is expected to soar from 200m today to 900m by 2100.

The cause of the stalled fertility rate is two-fold, said Raftery: a failure to meet the need for contraception and a continued preference for large families. “The unmet need for contraception – at 25% of women – has not changed in for 20 years,” he said. The preference for large families is linked to lack of female education which limits women’s life choices, said Raftery. In Nigeria, 28% of girls still do not complete primary education.

population graph
Global population trend Photograph: Guardian

Another key factor included for the first time was new data on the HIV/AIDS epidemic showing it is not claiming as many lives as once anticipated. “Twenty years ago the impact on population was absolutely gigantic,” Raftery said. “Now the accessibility of antiretroviral drugs is much greater and the epidemic appeared to have passed its peak and was not quite as bad as was feared.”

The research, conducted by an international team including UN experts, is published in the journal Science and for the first time uses advanced statistics to place convincing upper and lower limits on future population growth. Previous estimates were based on judgments of future trends made by researchers, a “somewhat vague and subjective” approach, said Raftery. This predicted the world’s population would range somewhere between 7bn and 16bn by 2100. “This interval was so huge to be essentially meaningless and therefore it was ignored,” he said.

But the new research narrows the future range to between 9.6bn and 12.3bn by 2100. This greatly increased certainty – 80% – allowed the researchers to be confident that global population would not peak any time during in the 21st century.

Another population concern is the ageing populations currently seen in Europe and Japan, which raises questions about how working populations will support large numbers of elderly people. But the new research shows the same issue will affect countries whose populations are very young today. Brazil, for example, currently has 8.6 people of working age for every person over 65, but that will fall to 1.5 by 2100, well below the current level in Japan. China and India will face the same issue as Brazil, said Raftery: “The problem of ageing societies will be on them, in population terms, before they know it and their governments should be making plans.”

In separate work, published on Monday, Wolfgang Lutz, director of the Vienna Institute of Demography, highlighted education as crucial in not only reducing birth rates but also enabling people to prosper even while populations are growing fast. In Ghana, for example, women without education have an average of 5.7 children, while women with secondary education have 3.2 and women with tertiary education only 1.5. But he said: “It is not primarily the number of people that’s important in population policy, it’s what they are capable of, their level of education, and their health.”


Save the Earth: Pray for a Pandemic

I don’t mean to sound like some hateful misanthrope who wants to see humanity suffer for all its crimes against the environment. Rather, my misanthropy stems from a profound love of nature and a will to save non-humans from the cruelty and exploitation they’re routinely subjected to by the one species fully capable of causing a mass extinction. Indeed, the species Homo sapiens is currently in the process of putting an end to the most biologically diverse period the Earth has ever known—the Age of Mammals, a class which the human race must reluctantly finds itself included in.

Being nothing more than mere mammals themselves, humans are ultimately at the mercy of Mother Nature’s self-preserving tactics. And what better way to reign in an errant child than with a major global pandemic that takes down only humans? Let’s face it; humans are never going to reverse the ill-effects of climate change willingly. Oh, world leaders sometimes give it lip service, but they almost never mention the parallel scourge of overpopulation. It seems it’s hard to be “green” and keep 7,185,322,300 (as of this writing) people fed, clothed, sheltered and transported in the manner they’re currently accustomed to.

If people want to come out of this alive, they’re going to have to make some serious lifestyle changes. That means no more oil-dependent cars, trains, jet airplanes, no more Walmarts full of plastic trinkets built with coal power in Chinese factories, then sent overseas in gargantuan container ships. No offshore oil wells, no fracking, no tar sands pipelines; no freeways, no commuter traffic, no immensely-popular sporting events selling factory-farmed hot dogs by the billions. No people by the billions, for that matter. No more breeding until humans have figured out how to live alongside the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants without wiping them out or making slaves out of them.

No more! Starting right now! No false-starts or baby steps. Time to change or be changed!

It’s not just the politicians who lack the will to do what it will take to soften the blow of climate change. But while humans debate their role in causing relatively dependable weather systems to go topsy-turvy worldwide, Nature is poised to unleash a pandemic or two from her bag of tricks and take care of the human problem herself. I’m not talking about Ebola, that’s too slow and nasty.

When Nature gets serious, I’m hoping it’ll be quick and painless for all.  By the time humans know what hit ‘em, there’ll be no one left to test the experimental vaccine on the animals who’ll be too busy inheriting the Earth anyway.



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