Hartland McDonald – $1,000 Winner

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2015 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest. Each year, NPG conducts an Essay Scholarship for high school and undergradute students.
In 2015 the topic was:

Should the United States’ government pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations?

Click here to see all the winning essays

By Hartland McDonald, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Should the United States’ government pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations?

I strongly believe that the United States government should pursue population policies to protect our future generations and the best way, as with most things, is to convince people that it was their idea in the first place.

Because our nation was founded on … and has thrived on … the principals of individual freedom, we always seem to resent the implication that we are being told what to do, or told what is best, regardless of the good intentions. Forcing people to give up what many consider the most personal, individual choice of all would breed resentment and refusal. To change the way people think and view their world, patience and dedication to a cause are essential. Instead of “tell me” our government would be wiser to “show me” and with that in mind, a thoughtful policy would:

Educate – From the very start of our children’s public education a policy should be in place to teach them about their responsibilities in raising a family of their own. As they grow older and approach the years of high school and college, a thorough education in the financial responsibility and impact of raising a child should be part of the normal curriculum. Make sure they know that having a child is a personal and potent decision, not to be made by anyone but them.   Make this knowledge as important as math and science because, after all, in its most basic form, that’s what population growth is.

Empower – Once you have educated people in the lessons of uncontrolled population growth, allow people who have reached the age to bear children the luxury of making their own decision not to – and then provide cost-free, over the counter birth control. If our government can deny a person the right to purchase cigarettes or alcohol because of their age, let’s enlist those same methods to allow them to make a decision that prevents an unplanned pregnancy with the added health benefit of curtailing the transmission of disease.

Engage – Use the “green” movement as a primary example – that population control is the ultimate sustainability quest. Convincing people that recycling was a good idea – good for us – and good for the future of our planet – has taken a permanent hold around the world. The “pink” movement now has the entire month of October dedicated with the race to find a cure for breast cancer. Everything imaginable is pink – from NFL uniforms to products on grocery store shelves. These ideas were not even being promoted 30 years ago but once the entrepreneurial world was engaged (and money could be made!) the race was on to find new and better ways to be green … or pink. We need to take the same idea, put our best minds on it and include private enterprise and activists with a proven track record. Use successful programs elsewhere as examples, find a way to make it lucrative – and – find a way to make it “hot”.

Everyone wants to be part of something smart and successful. If a trend starts in the U.S., the world is sure to follow. The United States must take the lead with policies that will make Negative Population Growth “the next big thing.”


There is no remedy that can possibly avert disastrous Climate Change and Global Warming unless we first address the problem of world population size and growth, and its impact on the size of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.That means that we need to address the population size and growth of each nation, which together make up the world total.

World population, now over 7.3 billion, is predicted to rise to 9 billion by 2050, an increase of almost two billion, or 23%, in the short space of only 34 years from now.In the highly unlikely event that per capita greenhouse gas emissions could possibly be decreased by an equal percentage in such a short space of time (a blink of an eye) the total amount of worldwide emission would remain the same!

From this simple illustration it would appear that without drastically reducing the size of world population, there is no solution to the problem.None at all.So then why do our world leaders pretend that there is one?What is to be gained by pretending rather than by proposing a solution that would solve the problem – a reduction in the size of world population to not more than 1- 2 billion?
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