The most common question I get from readers of this column is about what organizations are worthy to receive our donations. I will respond with my opinions.
As you can imagine, some nonprofit organizations are more fiscally responsible than others. I suggest checking with Guidestar or Charity Navigator if you would like objective information about an organization’s financial integrity. Some good organizations are too small to be listed, unfortunately.
I only know of two national environmental organizations that have significant population programs. My favorite is the Center for Biological Diversity. It has recognized that we are amid the sixth massive extinction of species; the last one resulted from a huge meteor and wiped out the dinosaurs. The growing number of people is causing species to go extinct at a rate 1,000 times normal. The center is not afraid to face reality, and its people have a sense of humor, too. Have you seen their Endangered Species Condoms?
The Sierra Club has a person dedicated to the issue of population and soon will have a second. Consistent with other Sierra Club programs, it advocates for renewable energy, reducing resource consumption and empowerment of women and girls. In addition, it sponsors youth advocacy trainings and work to increase funding for international family planning.
Dave Gardner is a friend who grew up in Colorado Springs. He worked in Texas for a long time making videos for PBS. When he returned to Colorado, he barely recognized his hometown, as it had grown so much. He has used his terrific sense of humor and movie-making talent to good purpose with a full-length video “Growthbusters.” Perhaps his funniest videos feature Endangered Species condoms or his irreverent “Phone call to the Pope” – both available on YouTube.
When is the best time to reach people with messages about population? It’s certainly not when they are old like me or even in the middle of building a family. It is best that school-age children know about the world they will inherit. Population Connection’s age-appropriate curricula reach 3 million students each year in the United States. In addition, this organization keeps our Congress up to date about population issues and keeps track of the voting record of our representatives in Washington. Is this organization’s name unfamiliar? Perhaps you will recognize ZPG (zero population growth), its former title. It first made headlines back in the 1970s.
The two most prominent of our country’s population activists are at opposite ends of the U.S. Paul Ehrlich is in California at Stanford University, and Bill Ryerson’s office is in Vermont – but he is seldom home. In March of this year, I attended a meeting these two men organized to look at the next steps in the population movement. It was a little discouraging because we didn’t come up with a unified plan – but these two giants are working hard to help make the world more sustainable.
Ehrlich started the modern population movement in 1968 with his book The Population Bomb. It is difficult to remember that, in addition to his concern about human population, he is an outstanding biologist. He and his wife, Anne, have authored three dozen books and almost a thousand scientific papers.
The Ehrlichs realized that science alone is not sufficient to influence the hearts and minds of people. Recently, they started the “Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere” – MAHB. This online international network has individuals and nodes all over the world but has yet to gain much traction. At this time, MAHB is looking for people to help it grow. I am delighted that my monthly columns are available through MAHB by RSS feed.
Ryerson’s organization is the Population Media Center. Although only 16 years old, it is making a difference in over a dozen countries, including the United States. My column from July focused on East Los High, an excellent online video series helping mainly Hispanic teens to make wise life decisions. Ryerson uses a model that has been proven to work. In many places, people are addicted to “soap operas.” PMC designs characters as role models to reflect local values, while emphasizing empowerment of women, AIDS avoidance and the advantages of small families.
Don’t forget Durango Nature Studies. Although not focused on population issues, it gets kids outside, so they learn to love our environment and will be more likely to be advocates to protect it in the future.
Several organizations are working to make families healthier and smaller. We can help with our contributions.
Richard Grossman practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Durango. Reach him at email@example.com. © Richard Grossman MD, 2014