We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2017 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest. Each year, NPG conducts an Essay or Written Scholarship for high school and undergradute students.
President Donald Trump and the more than 50 new Members of the 115th Congress should learn about the critical issue of U.S. population size and growth. Students are requested to provide NPG with a three- to five-point plan to educate these freshmen legislators about the sources of U.S. population growth, as well as policy suggestions to slow, halt, and eventually reverse our growth in order to preserve America’s environment, economy, natural resources, and quality of life.
by Grant Kleiman – Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, MN
The Population Elevator Keeps Going Up
Imagine you’re on an elevator and twelve people get on. Your face is squashed against the wall. The smell of aftershave and body odor makes you nauseous. The elevator stops and someone else tries to get on. “Get lost!” someone rudely says, pushing the “Close Door” button before the newcomer can enter.
Anytime you pack too many people into one space, the quality of life declines. Civility diminishes. You endanger people’s safety. That’s why there’s a sign in every elevator limiting capacity. From an ecological perspective, the United States is a full elevator. We’ve exceeded our “carrying capacity,” a term that refers to the population a nation can sustain while still protecting resources for future generations.
In 1965, the United States changed our immigration policy to focus on family reunification. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 resulted in “chain migration.” Naturalizing a single immigrant opens the door to a chain of his or her children, parents, and siblings who, in turn, sponsor an average of 3.45 additional immigrants. In 1965, the population of the United States was 194.3 million. Today it’s 324.9 million. In just a few decades, the U.S. population will exceed 400 million.
The U.S. population is the third highest in the world, after China and India. According to the United Nations’ World Population Prospects, the ten countries with the fastest growing populations are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, United States, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Uganda. Visiting nine of these fast-growing countries, chances are you’ll see slums filled with tiny, dilapidated homes shared by six or seven family members. Air pollution is common. Food is scarce. Clean water is often nonexistent. Is the United States going to wait until Brooklyn looks like Kolkata before we take steps to control our population?
Are we going to keep packing people onto the elevator, diminishing the quality of life for all? Here are five measures that will make a difference.
Acknowledge the real problem.
People have the sense that things are falling apart, but nobody wants to acknowledge the real problem. Climate and environmental threats, insufficient supply of fresh water, depletion of natural resources, habitat destruction, species extinction, energy, economic opportunity, infrastructure collapse, traffic congestion, transportation and housing issues – virtually every problem humanity faces starts with the root problem of overpopulation. We need to talk about it.
Encourage smart family planning.
People need access to reliable and affordable birth control and family planning information. By empowering women, educating people and offering tax incentives, we can encourage smaller families through family planning based on individual choices rather than government mandates.
Reduce legal immigration.
In the United States, immigration drives population growth. The U.S. is home to 19 percent of the world’s migrants. According to the Census Bureau’s Population Clock, a migrant enters the U.S. every 32 seconds. Our country’s motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One) speaks to America’s tradition of welcoming new arrivals from across the globe. Unfortunately, our nation can no longer sustain high rates of immigration. A responsible immigration policy is to accept the same number of immigrants (people moving to the United States) as there are emigrants (people moving from the U.S. to become permanent residents of other countries.)
Enforce laws banning illegal immigration.
An estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. If we hope to maintain a sustainable environment for American citizens, we need to reduce the number of illegal aliens to near zero. Secure the borders and ports. Insist companies hire only authorized workers. We can be sympathetic to the plight of migrants craving the opportunities America offers. However, a nation that fails to enforce its borders and laws is risking the security, economic opportunities, natural resources and quality of life of its citizens.
Think about the future.
The real issue of overpopulation is about the type of country Americans want to leave future generations. We’re at a crossroads that will determine the future of our nation. One path leads to more people, more crowded cities, roads and schools, and more demands on resources, including food, water and energy. The other path leads to reducing population growth, protecting resources from overuse and creating a sustainable place to call home for generations to come.
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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