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?
From Tranquility to Traffic
By Camille Pederson
I watched as the turquoise water reflected in the sun, I stood paralyzed in awe. I had never seen anything like it. After living in Minnesota all my life, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean. It was so surreal, like a screensaver. That abandoned white sand beach was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The moment I saw the beach for the first time took my breath away and I instantly fell in love. Only six years later, as I walk to the very same beach I see an entirely different scene: a beach plastered with people, umbrellas, sandcastles, and rubbish.
Lanikai beach is a place I will always hold close to my heart. It was where I would go to clear my head, to meditate on the beauty of creation. Yet now I cannot sit on the beach in peace without being interrupted. The small, local, and previously unknown beach has become the new Waikiki. Only this beach is located in a residential neighborhood; a previously still neighborhood has been transformed into a gridlock. The traffic is horrific; one can get stuck there for an hour without moving an inch. It was not until I saw a photograph of the town from 1960 that I realized just how much the population has exploded, and destroyed one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
What used to be lush green mountains has become packed with homes, which entirely depletes the natural beauty of the island. The population on Oahu boomed in 1960 and has grown 17% since 1990, currently weighing in at 1.3 million people. The people per square mile have increased tremendously; the homes are now required to be built closer and closer together. My house itself is inches away from the home next door, which is seen island wide. Cramped, traffic filled, and crowded is not exactly what one visualizes when they picture the lush tropics of Hawaii. What comes to mind are rural areas, grass huts, and vast rainforests. Yet, that is not the reality of today. Hawaii is becoming a busy, restricted, and industrialized land. The rainforests are being cut down, replacing a once flourishing jungle with concrete in order to accommodate the growing population.
The spirit of aloha is alive, and excess population growth is a threat to that spirit. The Hawaiian Islands are truly incredible and unique; I would like my future children to live in a state filled with aloha. The cycle of expansion and further population growth needs to be slowed down in order to preserve life as I know it. This can be done by various methods. Knowledge is power, and education programs should be instituted across the island that address the issues involved with population growth and their consequences. Awareness will be raised and people will be inspired to appreciate the precious land, and the value in preserving it. Beginning in middle school, students should be required to take a sexual education course that emphasizes principles such as abstinence, but also addresses the importance of using protection when having sex. Unplanned pregnancy rates can be reduced by offering access to free condoms and birth control at planned parenting clinics. Having less children could also be encouraged through government tax reforms, which would not limit the amount of children but rather the reforms would not subsidize more than two or three kids. Areas with higher female education rates usually have a reduced rate of young children. This is most likely attributed to the fact that the women are focusing primarily on their career. Offering affordable education to women will benefit their careers and possibly lead to having fewer children.
The beauty of the Hawaiian Islands will be short-lived if the population continues to increase at the rate it is. In just the six years that I have called Hawaii my home, I have witnessed the beaches go from empty to jam-packed. The abandoned roads I would bike down are now crammed with vehicles. Even though I was younger then, my parents felt comfortable with allowing me to go out at night. Yet now at age eighteen, one would think I would have gained more independence, when in reality it is just the opposite. I am forced to carry pepper spray with around with me, because “you never know who you will run into.” Educational programs must be implemented to slow down population growth, protect the ‘aina (land) and ultimately preserve the spirit of aloha.
“Hawaii population.” Hawaii Travel Guide and Vacation Planner | To-Hawaii.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. <http://www.to-hawaii.com/population.php>.
“Health Trends In Hawaii.” Health Trends In Hawaii. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2013. <http://www.healthtrends.org/demo_pop_growth.aspx>.
email. “World Population Growth – Solutions to Overpopulation.” Clean Funny Cartoons, Videos Â +Â Information on Environment, Health, Energy, Democracy, Meltdowns, Resilience, More! … Grinning Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2013. <http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/07-05/world-population-growth-article.htm>.
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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