We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2014 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest. Each year, NPG conducts an Essay Scholarship for high school and undergradute students.
Explain why the average American citizen – particularly our youngest generation – should become active in the cause to slow, halt, and eventually reverse U.S. population growth.
By Ian T. Grey, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ
The natural resources necessary for sustaining human life are running out in the United States, but most Americans refuse to acknowledge either the problem or the real and obvious reason for it. It is not due to shortages of fresh water, food, energy, fresh air or physical space; Nature provides abundantly, and is capable, for the most part, of naturally renewing itself. No, the problem is rather the sheer number of people competing for and consuming available resources all at once. We are overtaxing the system. Human life should not be a mere question of survival. The quality of the lives we live also matters. All Americans should be concerned about this, but the younger generation that will ultimately inherit responsibility for dealing with it should be most concerned of all.
Overpopulation is the original root cause of scarcity, erosion to our prosperity and quality of life, and a contributing cause to many or most social and political problems. If the U.S. population is allowed to continue to grow unabated, the adverse effects will progressively worsen and intensify over time. Accordingly, younger Americans, whose life expectancies extend the farthest into the future, stand to experience the very worst effects of unchecked population growth in their lifetimes, and therefore should take the greatest interest of anyone in doing something to stop it. If we do not take steps to manage our population down to a sustainable level, Nature will do it for us, but in catastrophic ways that it would be in all our best interests to avoid.
There is a lot of pressure on Americans to welcome a continuously increasing population, or at least accept it as inevitability. American government and business alike use obsolete economic models that depend on an ever-expanding population, without which they collapse. These institutions align themselves with special interests, using propaganda to manipulate public opinion in favor of population growth by falsely promising economic growth, social justice or other blessings. An example of this is the staunch advocacy both major political parties and many business leaders have for open and lenient immigration policies (immigration is today the largest and only significant source of U.S. population growth). Government’s only response to the problems brought by overpopulation is to focus on ways to make room for more and more people by forcing everyone else to make due with less and less. It is easier and less politically risky for politicians than it is to enact population reduction measures. Through our complacency and apathy, Americans allow powerful interests a free hand to act in ways that are detrimental to the common interest and preferences of the majority of us.
The day-to-day effects of population growth are incremental, and imperceptible to most people. People don’t think or talk about it. Like millions of ostriches, all with their heads buried in the sand, most Americans blithely ignore overpopulation or pretend to themselves that it is really not a problem. Some have cultural or philosophical reasons for believing it is not right, desirable or even possible to interfere with human population growth. Many younger Americans, looking out at the polluted, overpopulated, violent, broken world they are inheriting from their parents and grandparents, have cynically resigned themselves to the conviction that these problems cannot be solved, and we are headed for oblivion. Instead of resolutely confronting the problem as they should, people say “Why bother?” Some enlightened people among us have warned about the dangers of overpopulation, and have tried to persuade Americans to get behind policies and actions that will slow, stop, and reverse population growth. So far, not enough of us have yet come to grips with the seriousness of the problem, or are even paying attention. Perhaps it will take an existential crisis (plague, famine, war) before Americans see the necessity of lowering our population. With hope, it won’t come to that.
Historically, young Americans have always been at the forefront of activism and have led many of the reform movements that have advanced American society. Unfortunately, most of today’s young Americans, who have the most at stake with the crisis of overpopulation, are still asleep, or else are prisoners to the false notion that they are powerless to stand up for what is right and necessary, and change their world for the better. Surely as conditions deteriorate, a sufficient number of Americans will eventually rise up and demand sensible population management policies, work which will fall primarily to the younger generations.
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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