Hartland McDonald – $1,000 Winner of the 2013 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest. Each year, NPG conducts an Essay Scholarship for high school and undergradute students.
In 2013 the topic was:

Explain how population growth has negatively affected your community. What solutions do you propose to ensure a decent quality of life for your generation 30 years from now?

Click here to see all the winning essays

By Hartland McDonald

Hardly a day goes by when a report on the world’s ruinous finances isn’t mentioned.  Scary phrases like “fiscal cliff” and threats of economic Armageddon are common.  I find it ironic that so much emphasis is being put on people living within their financial budget, but no thought is ever given to living within the earth’s budget.  Our global checkbook is running low on funds… and our family gets larger every day.  We’re deluding ourselves into thinking that the earth’s bountiful resources are endless and no care needs to be given to how unlimited population growth will defeat all our efforts in sustainability and conservation.  The first step in reducing over-usage is reducing the amount of consumption.  What’s the point in building cars that use less gasoline when the amount of people driving goes up every year?  The time is NOW to combine the forces of environmental protection, sustainability, resource renewal, and negative population growth to protect our fragile planet for future generations.

Every day the proof that our population is impacting the balance of our earth’s climate becomes clearer.  We may find that in a few short decades, our abundant crops and plentiful water will be blessings of the past.  I’ve watched my own South Florida community become congested, polluted and physically overtaxed.   The rush of people coming here to enjoy the mild weather and beautiful natural scenery was endlessly encouraged for economic reasons.  Very little regard was given to the impact that unlimited growth would have on the Florida Everglades and the delicate Biscayne Aquifer that we get our water from.  Just in my short lifetime, I have seen the heavy curtailment of water usage and the destruction of the natural environment – all a result of the area’s overpopulation.  Lake Okeechobee, one of our main water resources, has been ten to twelve feet below its normal level for years.  The last few hurricane seasons brought weeks of power loss, boil water orders, and limited supplies.  Rushing to a local grocery store only to find empty shelves – or waiting in a mile long gas line – is a frightening experience.  When you live in an area where too many people clamor for finite resources  – you begin to see how the future of an overpopulated world would be.

A concentrated effort must be made to educate people and there is truly no time to lose.  I propose that a globally respected institution like the United Nations make this a special priority, uniquely important to us all.  A worldwide educational effort should be implemented and a special task force established to share knowledge and new ideas.  We’re at a critical time – but a unique one as well.  We have the power and creativity to change the way treat our planet – and the “connectivity” among people worldwide to make it happen.  Everyone must understand that no matter where we call home – we all have only one home.  Let us all endeavor to lessen our impact on the planet where we live.  Our peace and prosperity depend on it.


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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