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.
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?
By Ryan Molton
“The only constant is change.” These words, written twenty-five hundred years ago by a man named Heraclitus who could not possibly have known the extent of his wisdom, came at a time when just one hundred million people inhabited the Earth. Today, as the global population has grown to seventy times that number, change is ever present as we live at the cutting edge of technology and innovation in a world that seems almost infinite in possibility. Yet the world is not infinite, and as an ever-growing population consumes its limited natural resources with reckless abandon, that fact becomes increasingly clear.
In my hometown, a suburb sixty miles outside of Los Angeles, I am constantly reminded that the well being of the community is intrinsically bound to the number of people who depend on its resources. Once a small town of twenty thousand, built around the economic certainty of a military installation, the city has more than doubled in population and size in the past thirty years, even as the base has closed. Acres upon acres of citrus groves have been replaced by increasingly intrusive housing developments, consumers taking the place of producers in the sort of sad irony that is all too common across this great nation. The issue of overpopulation, though, extends well beyond the destructive force of urban sprawl.
I see it in the lengthy graduation ceremony for a senior class of nine hundred at a high school built for half of that, and in the inability of those graduates to find employment in a community with more people than jobs. I see it in the faces of neighbors who stare quietly at the ground as they pass each other because the city is too large to support the strong sense of community that let my parents’ generation stay out until the streetlights came on. I see it in the view from the peak of a local mountain, where hikers once marveled at the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean some sixty miles away, but now struggle even to make out the valley beneath them through a dense layer of smog. I see it in rising crime rates and rising sea levels, in the devastation of whole cities by increasingly destructive natural disasters and in the devastation of nature by increasingly desperate human beings, and I see it in the continued fall-from-grace of the community that raised me. The issue of overpopulation is real, and it poses a lasting threat to the well-being of every community that fails to confront it.
What solutions, then, are available to those of us who wish to combat that threat and ensure a decent quality of life for our generation and the next? It begins with an unequivocal endorsement of a two-child policy, incentivized through tax credits and promoted by all of those in public life who have influence on social trends and a vested interest in the long term well-being of this country and its people. Such a policy would serve to stabilize and, ultimately, reverse unsustainable population growth, and it would do so using positive reinforcement rather than coercive measures. While this two-child policy would deal with American issues of domestic population growth, further action would be required to rein in population growth of foreign origin by way of immigration, both legal and illegal. Immigration reform is necessary for a host of reasons, but the fact that immigrants contribute to this country’s issues of population growth to the order of over one million people per year should be enough to force action in Congress. Not only must all borders and means of illegal entry be secured, but immigration through legal channels must also be curbed so that only those relocating for existing employment, those reuniting with immediate family, and those with legitimate claims to refugee status would be permitted entry and citizenship. A policy of this kind, enacted in a manner that did not discriminate against any particular country or group, would serve to further reduce issues of population growth, and ultimately, it is this issue of overpopulation and our ability to confront it that will define the future of our well-being as inhabitants of this precious Earth.
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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