Wyatt Martinez – $2,500 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

The Growing Problem of Population Growth

By Wyatt Martinez

It was an invasion! As I watched from the comfort of my small home, the earthmovers and bulldozers encroached upon Gaston County’s last dairy farm. The infinite powers at city hall and in the corporate world of land development had determined that Gaston County needed that extra 100 + acres to build McMansions and all of the amenities that a planned community would need to amuse the new group of “transplants” moving to the area. All that I could think about was Dr. Seuss’s story, The Lorax, and I wondered how my community could ever sustain all of these newcomers moving into my town.
Local Problem
This development boom was occurring all over the Carolina Piedmont region, especially for those borderline counties near Charlotte. According to a study initiated by the University of North Carolina Charlotte Urban Institute (2010), “Gaston County’s development footprint went from 0.10 acres in 1976 to 0.40 acres in 2006” (para 3). The country roads and small family homes were being replaced with asphalt, treated lawns, and cookie cutter preformed housing. Next door, the greater Charlotte area was also feeling the strain of urban sprawl. In a report by the American Forest Analysis (as cited in Newsome, 2012), it was reported that “Mecklenburg County had lost 33 percent of its tree canopy and 3 percent of its open space between 1985 and 2008” (para. 3). Again, all that I could think about was what would happen when the “Once-lers” cut down the very last “Truffula tree,” as written in The Lorax (Seuss, 1971).
The message of The Lorax speaks to me, not only of the consequences of harming the environment, but of the perilous situation that our country faces with a swelling population. On a personal level, there is one less family-owned dairy farm in Gaston County to sustain the needs of the growing consumer base. As the American-born son of a Mexican immigrant, I realize that immigration to this country is a huge factor that is contributing to this exhaustion of natural resources, not only in my community but across the country.
The solution to the exponential growth that is taking place in this country is reliant upon several things. First, real immigration reform must be enacted. For people seeking legal residency, a low-level quota must be established regardless of its political popularity. Automatic and swift deportation for illegal immigrants must also be initiated. Immigration to this country must be made less attractive and more difficult for people seeking to relocate here. At the same time, all forms of federal benefits to non-citizens should be eliminated.
The next area for review should be a complete overhaul of the tax code and federal benefit system, which monetarily compensates families contingent upon the number of dependents and children in the household. Contrary to current policy, a graduated plan that favors families based on smaller households should be developed. This incentive would encourage families to engage in preparatory family planning, and would shift the burden back to the family as opposed to the state.
Hand-in-hand with the incentives for smaller families, this country must concentrate on informing young people about contraception. This dialogue must go beyond the middle school sex education class. Churches, athletic organizations, and the media must join with parents, health systems, and schools to reaffirm the message of contraception. This is a message that speaks not only to the citizens of this country, but to a global population.
Without some type of intervention soon, the population of our country and our world will soon exhaust the available natural resources we have. In Gaston County, total population increased from “190,365 in 2000” to “206,086 in 2010,” according to the United States Census Bureau (2001; 2011). Although the subject of population control is taboo, the political and corporate powers will be forced to deal with this issue simply because of the fact that food and water shortages will exist in America’s own backyard. It has been more than 30 years since Dr. Seuss wrote his clever environmental fable. So, as I reflect on the growth that is overtaking my community and my world, I must quote Seuss’s character The Lorax one final time: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (1971) Overpopulation is no fairy tale, and this is a prophetic call to action.


Dr. Seuss. (1971). The Lorax. New York, NY: Random House. Newsome, Mary. (2012, October 12). Group aims to restore shrinking city tree canopy. Retrieved April 3, 2013 from http://plancharlotte.org/story/nonprofit-treescharlotte-repairs-tree-canopy-charlotte.

United States Census Bureau. (2001). Profile of general demographic characteristics: Gaston County, North Carolina. Retrieved April 8, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

United States Census Bureau. (2011). State and county quick facts: Gaston County, North Carolina. Retrieved April 8, 2013 from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37/37071.html.

University of North Carolina Charlotte Urban Institute. (2010, August 23). Understanding the effects of growth in Gaston County. Retrieved April 3, 2013 from http://ui.uncc.edu/content/understanding-effects-growth-gaston-county.


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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