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A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice, and the Environmental Challenge [Kindle Edition]

Laurie Ann Mazur , Martha Farnsworth Riche , Steve Sinding , Tim Wirth , Tim Cohen , Susan Gibbs , Brian O'Neill , Robert Engelman , Elizabeth Malone , Elizabeth Leahy Madsen , Amy Coen , Lynne Gaffikin , John Harte , Gordon McGranahan , Rachel Nugent , Lester R Brown , Walden Bello , Eleanor Sterling , Erin Vintinner , Vicky Markham , Julia Varshavsky , Carmen Barroso , Judith Bruce , John Bongaarts , Suzanne Petroni , Susana Chavex Alvarado , Jacqueline Nolley Echegaray , Adrienne Germain , Ellen Chesler , Roger-Mark De Souza , James Gustave Speth , Shira Saperstein , Priscilla Huang , Rev. James B Martin-Schramm PhD , Ursula Goodenough , Frances Kissling , Sandra Postel , Fred Sai , Alex Steffen , Adriana Varillas , Malea Hoepf Young , Charlotte Brody
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Book Description

Through a series of essays by leading demographers, environmentalists and reproductive health advocates, A Pivotal Moment offers a new perspective on the complex connection between population dynamics and environmental quality. It presents the latest research on the relationship between population growth and climate change, ecosystem health and other environmental issues. It surveys the new demographic landscape—in which population growth rates have fallen, but human numbers continue to increase. It looks back at the lessons learned from half a century of population policy—and forward to propose twenty-first century population policies that are sustainable and just.


A Pivotal Moment puts forth the concept of “population justice,” which is inspired by reproductive justice and environmental justice movements. Population justice holds that inequality is a root cause of both rapid population growth and environmental degradation.  As the authors in this volume explain, to slow population growth and build a sustainable future, women and men need access to voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services. They need education and employment opportunities, especially for women. Population justice means tackling the deep inequities—both gender and economic—that are associated with rapid population growth and unsustainable resource consumption. Where family planning is available, where couples are confident their children will survive, where girls go to school, where young men and women have economic opportunity—there couples will have healthier and smaller families.

Editorial Reviews


"This book, with chapters by world-renowned experts, should be recommended reading for national and global leaders who seek to meet the environmental and economic development challenges of the 21st century. It provides a compelling, evidence-based case to support renewed attention to reproductive health and rights as a critical part of the solution to build a better and more sustainable future for all."
(Geeta Rao Gupta president, International Center for Research on Women)

"Finally, a book that maps the complex connections among climate change, resource depletion, globalization, inequity and overconsumption, then focuses in on the ways that population growth exacerbates all of them, but also results from them. No simple-minded solutions are offered in this revelatory work; but an effective formula for reducing population impacts by strengthening women's rights, roles and economic opportunities. This book should be mandatory reading not only in academia, but for all public policy advocates seeking sustainable pathways for the future."
(Jerry Mander founder and distinguished fellow, International Forum on Globalization)

"A Pivotal Moment demonstrates the possibility of building a sustainable, more equitable future... People count and numbers matter—and this book is a classic call to action we cannot afford to ignore if we care about the well being of current and future generations."
(Dr. Gill Greer director-general, International Planned Parenthood Federation)

"Here's the book on population we've been waiting for—not a nativist screed that lays the blame for our environmental woes on overbreeding others, but a clearheaded and smart look at the ways that justice, anti-materialism, and women's rights can help limit both our numbers and their impact."
(Bill McKibben author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy)

About the Author

Editor Laurie Mazur is an independent writer and consultant to nonprofit organizations. She is the editor of Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption, and the Environment (Island Press, 1994) and co-author of Marketing Madness: A Survival Guide for a Consumer Society (Westview, 1995).

Product Details

  • File Size: 4204 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (October 16, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IMZ9GK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,652 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag February 10, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"A Pivotal Moment" is a mixed bag. On the positive side, contributors like Brian O'Neill, Robert Engelman and Lynne Gaffikin provide persuasive evidence that stabilizing populations is key to addressing environmental problems. This core message is important and timely, given that the population / environment connection seems to have largely disappeared from environmental discourse in the past two decades, at least in the United States.

On the negative side, however,the discussion here is relentlessly anthropocentric. In almost 400 pages, there is hardly a mention that any other species besides good old Homo sapiens might deserve some of the land, water, and other resources that humanity is ever more thoroughly appropriating.

"Sustainability" in these pieces inevitably means sustaining more people in ease and comfort. There is a lot of talk about women's reproductive rights--but no discussion, anywhere, about other species' right to continued existence.

All the contributors to "A Pivotal Moment" agree that women have an unalienable right to have as many children as they want. The assumption is that this is OK environmentally, because "as many as they want" typically means less than currently. But of course, it need not mean that. As one of the pieces does point out, in some countries, a major impediment to reducing fertility rates is women's and men's desire for lots of kids.

In a world with 6.9 billion people (and counting), do people really have the right to have as many children as they want? Remember, if you say "yes," that includes "the Octomom" and Joe Jessup, the Utah patriarch smiling out from this month's National Geographic in a picture with his five wives and forty-six children.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent messages from worthy resource gurus December 14, 2009
In September 2007 the editor, Laurie Ann Mazur, convened a conference entitled the New Population Challenge (NPC) which drew over 60 participants interested in the subjects of population growth, women's rights and environmental improvement. Subsequently, in February 2008 another conference drew a group of 35 younger US and internationally based advocates to Washington, DC for the purpose of getting their views on how to best put forward the population-environmental message in their generation.

As the author wrote me in a recent personal letter, "Both meetings informed the development of A Pivotal Moment". It is hoped by its authors that its urgent messages will revitalize new thinking and enthusiasm among progressive people here in the US, encouraging thereby new resources for family planning and reproductive health programs around the world.

An impressive array of articles thus appear in this important new book, including by authors Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation, Frances Kissling, former executive director of Catholics for Choice, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, and John Bongaarts and Judith Bruce of the Population Council, as well as Gustave Speth, former Dean of the Yale School of Foresty and Environmental Studies.

Following the book's release on October 27, 2009 at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, a number of favorable reviews ensued including from environmentalist, Bill McKibben, who called A Pivotal Moment "the book on population we've been waiting for". Geeta Rao Gupta, President of the International Center for Research on Women recommended it as "required reading for national and global leaders." International Planned Parenthood Federation's Director General, Dr.
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Malone likes to work at the intersection of human societies and their environments. The intersection that especially fascinates her is climate change, with its political, social, economic, technological, and physical world dimensions. The multi-dimensional nature of the issue, she believes, opens up the potential for addressing many problems at once, even though tradeoffs will be needed. Malone co-edited, with Steve Rayner, a four-volume assessment of social science research relevant to climate change, called "Human Choice & Climate Change." In the past decade, she has helped to develop methods to assess vulnerability and resilience to climate change and to structure frameworks for adaptation policy.


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