Demographic, Environmental,
Security Issues Project


Addendum #3 -- September 1997

by Ronald Bleier (rbleier@igc.org)

c o n t e n t s

Algeria: Death Rate Climbs Brazil: Suicide of Indigenous Peoples
International Finance:
Running Out of Money?
Jordan: Press Restrictions
North Korean Famine Southeast Asia: Piracy on the Increase
U.S. -- Dioxins in the Environment U.S. Forest Policy
U.S. Human Rights: Access to Abortions Limited U.S. Immigration and Population Issues
U.S. -- Pesticide Use Increasing Worldwide Environment: Threat to Coral Reefs
Worldwide Resources: Global Fish Wars Heating Up? Worldwide Environmental Damage: Ozone Hole Matches Record
World Population Trends: World Population Growing More Slowly

ALGERIA -- Death Rate Climbs

According to an August 30, 1997 report on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, the weekly death toll in the war between Algerian rebels and the government has recently risen from 1,000 a week to two or three times that number. The New York Times reported that as many as 300 may have been killed in a night time massacre at the village of Rais in the Sidi Moussa district not far from the capital Algiers ("98 Die in One of Algerian Civil War's Worst Massacres," August 30, 1997).

According to the Times, "authorities blamed the Armed Islamic Group, a militant organization spawned after the army's cancellation of an election in early 1992 that the now banned Islamic Salvation Front appeared certain to win. The civil war that followed has killed an estimated 60,000 people."

BRAZIL - Suicide of Indigenous Peoples

(from New York Times, "Indians in Brazil Wither in an Epidemic of Suicide," by Diana Jean Schemo in Dourados, Brazil, August 25, 1996)

An epidemic of about 200 suicides has broken out among the Kaiowa who live in the southern region of Brazil near the border with Paraguay. Last year, 56 of the 28,000 Kaiwa died in presumable suicides. The Kaiowa are a subgroup of Guarini Indians. The suicides seem to be tied to estrangement from the land on which their traditional life of fishing, farming, and worship depended.

When Europeans arrived here, Brazil was home to an estimated 5 million Indians. In 1900 there one million. Now there are 230,000.

"Since 1945, the Kaiowa have watched their land shrink from 25,000 sq. miles...to 172 miles, and their language and their rituals disappear with the arrival of the white colonists and the increase in the number of religious missionaries."

Late last year, Justice Minister Nelson Jobim pledged to return nearly 4,000 acres to the Kaiowa. But signalling the explosiveness of the contest for land here, federal and military police protected Mr. Jobin as he announced the areas to be turned over. The 40 colonists whose land was earmarked have vowed not to leave; no land has been returned."

A decree signed in January 1996 by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso "allows non-Indians to challenge pending and future allocations of land to Indians. Since it was issued, there have been 6 chall enges to Kaiowa lands here."

Missionary churches teach Portuguese instead of their native Tupi-Guarani. According to a Roman Catholic social worker, 28 religious groups, most of them evangelical Protestant have flocked to the area to convert the Kaiowa.

"In an effort to build up commercial farming, the Brazilian authorities also imported the more assimilated Terena Indians from the north, who have taken over some of the most fertile land."

"Many here complained that corruption and the power of people called captains were responsible for the loss of lands and the failure of Government aid to reach them."

"There are also signs that some suicides may mask murders...As many as 6 presumed suicides may have been murders implicating local authorities in a drive to push Indians off the land."


A November 1996 report in the New York Times raises the possibility that we may be approaching a financial crisis because of the lack of international capital to finance investment.

The report by Times reporter Sheryl Wu Dunn ("The Japanese Money Mill Sputters, November 27, 1966), contains a chart which indicates the amount by which current accounts of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Japan fall short of world capital needs. According to estimates, 1996 is setting a record deficit of approximately $70 billion when as recently as 1991 and 1992, the chart shows a slight bulge.

The reporter quotes a business professor at Keio University, a former Japanese government official, Makoto Utsumi, who said that the reliance of America and other industrial countries on capital from Japan is a fundamental weakness of the world economy.

In the past, Japan bought nearly 40% of U.S. bonds at Treasury auctions and over the years Japan has poured a trillion dollars into world markets. But Japan's surplus has declined from a high of $13 2 billion three years ago to an expected $70 to $80 billion this year. Some analysts even see a deficit in coming years raising the prospect of competition by Japan and the U.S. for world capital.

Other analysts are less concerned. They suggest that Japan's surplus may have hit bottom and may be slowly rising and that Japan's influence may be exaggerated since the market is "too big for anyone to influence or for there to be a major change of behavior."

US foreign debt was quoted at $830 billion, a record high in a report in September 1997, on the economic segment of "Behind the News," a radio program on WBAI in New York City produced by Doug Henwoo d, editor of Left Business Observer. There was discussion that such a high debt could prove destabilizing in times of economic upheaval.

JORDAN: Press Restrictions

Middle East International reported that on May 17, 1997, King Hussein issued a royal decree endorsing proposed amendments to an already restrictive 1993 Press and Publications Law ("Fettering the press, by Sana Kamal in Amman, May 30, 1997). The new amendments would impose heavy fines "if a newspaper publishes anything basically critical of anyone anywhere. Any 'news, views, opinions, analysis, information, reports, caricatures, photographs or any sort of material that disparages ... the king, or the royal family, the armed forces, the security forces, [and] heads of friendly states.'" Also included is a "ban on publishing any government document deemed confidential."

Violators would incur fines (as opposed to previous laws which imposed prison sentences) of between 15,000 and 25,000 dinars ($21,150 - 35,250). Moreover, "the new measures insist that to publish, a paper must have capital of 300,000 dinars (c.$425,000) instead of the present 15,000.

"The amendments came after King Hussein had lashed out at the 'yellow press,' meaning the weekly tabloids, over the past year." The new restrictions "are believed to be aimed primarily at stifling, or even closing down, around 20 outspoken weekly newspapers, some of them opposition party organs, which often run stories and commentaries the mainstream daily papers don't dare to print."

A May 20, 1997 opposition protest against the new restrictions on the press was subjected to a police crack down. Several protesters and journalists were beaten and nine were briefly arrested.


A larger and larger percentage of North Korea's 24 million people may be at risk of starvation due to a drought of more than 60 days duration which has compounded previous agricultural losses due to two years of floods and decades of economic mismanagement, the New York Times reported in early August 1997 ("Relief Teams Say North Korea Faces Vast Drought Emergency," by Barbara Crossette at the U N, August 5, 1997).

According to the Times, the U.S. "has given North Korea $60.4 million in food aid since September 1995 and is prepared to give more if necessary" but U.S. officials are "pressing Pyongyang to allow A mericans to monitor future shipments and to assess the situation."

The Times reported that a World Food Program official in Pyongyang said that "reservoirs were drying up everywhere, and that residents of the capital were experiencing breaks in the urban water supply."

According to a previous Times report, the food ration in North Korea "is now 450 grams a day, a survival level. In the countryside, the food ration -- where food is still available -- is down to 100 grams a day, not enough to live a normal life and go to work" (June 11, 1997).

According to the Times, "children are being abandoned by their parents because they cannot be fed" and there are anecdotal reports of cannibalism. In one story, a Chinese driver near the border with North Korea reported impossible to verify horror stories and said: "Terrible things happen when people get hungry" ("Grim Tales of Want From the North Korean Border, by Seth Faison, April 27, 1997).

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy on the Increase

According to a story in the Washington Post section of the Manchester Guardian Weekly ("Water Rats Bring Menace to the Waves," by John Grissom, July 13, 1997), in 1996 there were 224 reported attacks compared to 106 reported attacks in 1992 when statistics began to be compiled. Most incidents go unreported for a variety of reasons. Most of the attacks take place in South East Asian waters.

US -- Dioxins in the Environment

(from an article entitled "Medical Waste, Incineration and Dioxin," by Annie Leonard in BankCheck Quarterly, December/January 1997)

"In 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified medical-waste incinerators as the largest known source of dioxin released directly into the environment. Medical waste incinerators emit 5,100 grams out of a total 9,300 grams of dioxin toxic equivalents released each year. A June 1996 study issued by the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College in New York identifi ed medical-waste incineration as providing 48 percent of total dioxin deposited in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada; municipal waste incineration, the next largest source, accounted for another 22 percent."

Individual subscriptions to BankCheck Quarterly may be obtained for $25 by writing to BankCheck, 1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley CA, 94703.

US Forest Policy

According to an op-ed entitled "Logging and Landslides (NYT, February 19, 1996) by David Bayles, the conservation director of the Pacific Rivers Council in the winters of 1996 and 1997, after a period of dry years, there were thousands of landslides caused by intense winter storms in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. These storms and landslides "killed at least five people, destroyed spa wning streams for endangered salmon, contaminated water supplies and caused other havoc."

According to Bayles, "many of these landslides have occurred on national forest land that have been heavily logged in recent years. This logging was vastly increased by a Congressional clear-cut ride r [signed by President Clinton in the spring of 1995]. The rider, which expired at the end of last year, overrode all environmental laws and was worded so that timber companies could cut huge stands of perfectly healthy trees.

According to Bayles, Federal and state agencies which have approved these clear-cuts in the past, "continue to approve dangerous [forest] practices that benefit only the timber companies; and some in Congress -- led by Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho -- are trying to weaken environmental statutes governing national forests by making them guidelines rather than strict standards.

According to Bayles, more than 50 conservation groups have recently "asked President Clinton and the Western governors to direct the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the appropriate state agencies to impose an immediate moratorium on clear-cutting and road construction on steep slopes.

Bayles believes that "Congress has gone too far to benefit the timber companies while imposing the costs of this largess on taxpayers and those who live in the affected areas. According to the Wilderness Society, the net cost to the Treasury of subsidized logging in the national forests is about $200 million annually."

US HUMAN RIGHTS: Access to Abortions Limited

An editorial in the New York Times (September 3, 1996) complained that in "state legislatures around the country, abortion's opponents are winning a stealth war to limit women's right to choose. In many states, access to abortion is now prohibitively daunting for all but a small percentage of women. Today 84 percent of American counties have no abortion providers." The editorial cites the expense of abortions and protester's harassment as the chief obstacles.

The editorial details some of the restrictions states place on abortions and restrictions they are considering. "Eleven states require women to get counseling by a doctor and then either stay overnight or make another trip to have the abortion later...The lag time has also allowed protesters to trace patients' license plate numbers...One protester takes pride in calling young women's parents to announce that their grandchild is about to be murdered."

"Last year, legislators in 22 new states introduced bills for mandatory waiting periods. Twenty-eight states require women under 18 to notify or get the consent of one or both parents." The editorial concludes by noting that the restrictive trend "has gotten little attention in part because it leaves urban middle-class women's access to abortions largely untouched. Its impact falls on young, poor, rural or small-town women who lack the money and organization to track down an absent father and get his permission, get two days off from work, find an overnight baby sitter, drive four hours to a big-city clinic and pay for a hotel room."

U.S. Immigration and Population Issues

(from Negative Population Growth's NPG Letter, Summer 1997, Volume 25, Number 1)

"In 1996, legal immigration to the United States increased 27% to 916,000 according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ...

"Admissions of relatives of American citizens, those who fall under the family-preference categories and are the driving force behind chain migration, rose 30% and accounted for two-thirds of the total last year."

Negative Population Growth is based in Washington, D.C. and can be contacted at: npg@npg.org.

U.S. -- Pesticide Use Increasing

(from Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, #525, December 19, 1996)

According to a new book, Our Children's Toxic Legacy by Yale University Professor John Wargo:

Yearly subscriptions to Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly may be obtained for $25 by writing to Rachel's, P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403-7036


According to an article in Time Magazine, ("Wrecking the Reefs," by J. Madeline Nash, September 30, 1996) human insults to coral reefs all over the world is threatening their survival beyond the next century. Among the insults cited are "cyanide fishing, harbor dredging, coral mining, deforestation, coastal development, agricultural runoff, shipwrecks and careless divers...Already, some experts estimate, 10% of the earth's reefs have been mortally wounded. Thirty percent are in critical shape and may die within the next 10 to 20 years. And an additional 30% are coming under such sustained attack that they may perish by the year 2050."

It is estimated that the earth contains 400,000 sq. miles of reef. "Their stony ramparts serve as storm barriers that protect shorelines and provide ships with safe harbor. Their nooks and crannies accommodate fish and shellfish that are important sources of food for millions of people. And ... they are repositories of vast biological wealth..."

Coral reefs are suffering particular damage in the Philippines. "According to environmentalists...90% of the archipelago's 13,000 sq. mi. of reef is dead or deteriorating. Among other things, Philippine reefs are being buried by tons of soil that washes from deforested tracts of land. They are also being damaged by pollution that seeps from factories, farm fields and sewers. But above all they are being destroyed by too much fishing." Among the destructive methods local fisherman use to supply the Chinese market for groupers and other large fish are blasting the reefs with dynamite and then retrieving the dead fish; and, even more destructively, hunting down the fish, stunning them with cyanide and hauling them to the surface alive so they can be fresh for overseas markets. "Meanwhile the 330,000 lbs. of cyanide the divers dump onto living coral reefs each year is poisoning the reefs."

The article also emphasizes the key role fish play in maintaining the health of reefs by eating the seaweed which is always threatening to engulf the reefs. In 1983 Jamaica's reefs crashed when the seaweed eating fish were gone and the sea urchins which temporarily filled in for the missing fish succumbed to a mysterious disease.

Global warming with the accompanying temperature swings is another looming threat -- especially to weakened reef systems. The article concludes with the concern that "exploding population and the economic desperation that accompanies it" may, over time, prove insuperable pressures on reefs that will be too enormous to overcome.

WORLDWIDE RESOURCES: Global Fish Wars Heating Up?

An article in U.S News & World Report entitled "If World War III comes, blame fish" (October 21, 1996) details nine international incidents from March 1995 to October 1996 where navy and coast guard vessels arrested or shot at (and in two cases killed) fishermen or where governments authorized the use of force to exclude foreign fishermen. The article warns that we are now in an era where "Russians are shooting at Japanese, Tunisians are shooting at Italians, and a lot of people are shooting at Spanish."

"At its simplest, the fish wars are about too many boats and too few fish. Fisheries are a classic example of the economic dilemma of a commonly held resource. Nations have no incentive to conserve on their own, because their competitors will simply swoop in and plunder the excess. The 1982 Law of the Sea treaty tried to address this problem by giving coastal nations jurisdiction over exclusive economic zones (EEZs) that extend up to 200 miles offshore. But some gaps between EEZs coincide precisely with some of the world's most productive fishing grounds. The multinational fishing derbies that result from these anomalies -- known by such whimsical names as the Sea of Okhotsk "Peanut Hole," the Bering Sea "Doughnut Hole" and the Barents Sea "Loophole" -- have led to heated clashes between fishing fleets and local navies determined to prevent overfishing. The zones around disputed territories, such as the Senkakus Islands in the East China Sea, also are a magnet for conflict."

"According to the United Nations' Food And Agriculture Organization (FAO), almost 70 percent of the world's marine fish stocks are fully fished, overfished, depleted or recovering. Since an explosion from 3 million tons at the turn of the century, the annual marine catch appears to have stagnated at around 80 million tons in recent years.

"That leaves too many boats competing for the same fish....Most analysts agree with the FAO that half the number of boats [three million in 1990 -- almost double the amount in 1970] would be sufficient to catch the same number of fish."

"Agreements to limit harvests have repeatedly been circumvented or delayed." In addition, evading existing limits is widespread since no patrols adequately cover the vast areas involved. "Some fishing boat owners run up false flags -- or flags of convenience -- to dodge fishing patrols altogether. By registering their vessels with nations such as Panama and Honduras that are not party to inter national fishing conventions, the owners can legally evade agreed limits. The FAO estimates that in 1994 about 1,600 large fishing vessels were playing this shell game on the high seas, almost double the number for 1985."

Moreover world governments continue to subsidize fishing fleets to the tune of $54 billion in 1989, the latest data available. Between 1970 and 1990 the size of the world's industrial fishing fleet grew at twice the rate the fish catch grew.

WORLDWIDE ENVIRONMENT: The Demands of a Growing World Population

An editorial in the British environmental periodical Real WORLD (Number 17, Autumn 1996) entitled "Crisis, What Crisis," outlined some of the difficulties inherent in growing our world population at more or less current rates. According to some, our world population may double in the next fifty years: it is now about 5.82 billion. The chief point of the editorial is that if we wish to maintain our current standard of living, "production must keep up. Even if we accept a modest population increase of 33% to 8 billion, ways would have to be found to make overall savings of 25% in energy, pollution and resource use, just to avoid matters getting worse. In addition, more people means more land for housing, roads and infrastructure, and that means less for agriculture, forestry and dare we say, wilderness. Already in Britain a housing crisis looms as demand outstrips available space without encroaching on precious rural land.

"The ratio of cars to people would have to be reduced by 25% to avoid an increase in vehicle numbers. But, on the contrary, the car manufacturers are in an expansionist mood, with the encouragement of the likes of the British government through subsidies and grants."

The editorial concludes with the sober observation that the outlook is made less hopeful by the "abiding sense of unreality" in places where these matters should be addressed. The editors of Real Wor ld quote from an article in the UNEP magazine Our Planet which sees our next 25 years "Securely sustainable...the world can both feed itself and protect the environment...if investments such as in agricultural research, infrastructure, irrigation, markets and extension and training are maintained at 1980s levels, and if supplies of such inputs as fertilizers rise."

A subscription to Real World may be obtained for L7.00 (about $12) by writing to Real WORLD, 18 Sunnygill Terrace, Greenside, Tyne and Wear, NE40 4LE, UK. Checks in British currency only.
Email: a-ponton@realworld.u-net.com.


WorldWatch Magazine reported (March/April 1997) that the "seasonal rift in the ozone layer over the Antarctic last year [1996] fell just short of the record 24 million square kilometers set in 1995, but persisted longer over an area larger than Antarctica itself ... according to the World Metrological Organization." The 1996 figure reached 21 or 22 million square kilometers. The five or ten percent difference was termed "not significant" by Rumen Bojkov, an ozone expert at the UN agency.

WORLD POPULATION TRENDS: World Population Growing More Slowly

(from a forthcoming article by Ronald Bleier)

The world's population growth has been slowing, according to the latest estimates by two of the leading authorities on population, the U.S. Census Bureau and the United Nations. In May 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the annual growth of the world's population had fallen to just over 79 million. As recently as November 1995, the Census Bureau had estimated that the world's population was growing at 86.8 million yearly.

A year later, in November 1996, the U.N. Population Division, Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, announced that world population was growing at an average of 81 million persons a year between 1990 and 1995. The U.N. reported that the lower figure was down from a high of 87 million persons added every year between 1985 and 1990 -- which today stands as the peak period in the history of world population growth.

Causes of Lower Growth

The major factors for the slowdown in world population growth according to the U.S. Census Bureau include: the impact of AIDS in 7 more countries; increased mortality and reduced fertility in the for mer Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; reduced fertility in Western Europe and faster than predicted reductions in Southern Asia.