By Joseph Wagner | 29 June 2017
Negative Population Growth
Negative Population Growth presented a $2,000 scholarship award to Joseph Wagner, Gonzaga University, Spokane WA for this essay.
We are currently at a crossroads in our country’s history and the United States’ leadership is needed on the world stage now more than ever. Our own unsustainable desire for growth has resulted in Climate Change; from rising seas that threaten coastal cities to massive droughts that threaten the food and water of millions of people across the country. The root cause of this problem is population growth and the clashing belief of economics with reality; assuming the principle of infinite growth in the reality of a finite world. This is an enormous obstacle for the United States because our country has been built upon this economic principle. However, through smart policy making at home and leadership on the international stage, we can achieve negative population growth and create a prosperous world for all.
To begin addressing population growth here at home, I propose a family-focused incentivized tax policy. Instead of rewarding families per child as the current tax system does, we must reward smaller families that have two children or fewer. This will more accurately equate the effect of having children on the health of our planet and our country’s finite resources. Unlike China’s infamous one-child policy, this program provides an economic incentive to encourage couples to have smaller families while not restricting the individual’s freedom to choose the size of their family.
A secure border is of primary importance to the successful reduction in population growth here in the United States. That is why I propose stronger border security that allows the United States to authorize all those who come into the country and not overwhelm our already overstrained resources. Securing the border and limiting the number of illegal immigrants has already been a major focus of the new administration. The focus should continue to be a strong border policy that reduces illegal border crossings, coupled with a strict immigration policy that lowers the annual number of immigrants allowed into the states. By reducing the flow of immigrants into the United States, we can stem a significant cause of population growth, allowing more attention to be spent on the wellbeing of every American citizen.
Paired with these policies, we need to revamp the education system so that it teaches reproductive education alongside environmental classes that, together, focus on the impacts a new human life has on the Earth. There is currently a disconnect between the health of each individual and the collective health of us all. The next generation needs to better understand humanity’s interconnectedness with the environment and the damaging effect our massive population is having on this delicate relationship. A different perspective and greater understanding of our place in the world will help generate new innovative ideas for how humanity can live sustainably on this planet.
“All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people." Sir David Attenborough pic.twitter.com/jkOzaVr7Us
— Population Matters (@PopnMatters) May 6, 2017
These domestic policies will help to reduce our population in the United States to a sustainable level, but without coinciding international efforts our nation will still feel the environmental and humanitarian effects that an overpopulated planet brings. It is vital that we expand our reach to support international efforts towards educating and providing women access to birth control. According to the United Nations more than 50% of population growth between 2015 and 2050 will come from African nations alone. Supporting women’s empowerment programs and educational initiatives on this continent will greatly reduce population growth. This will help to limit the overwhelming effects of rapid population growth for these developing countries, which in turn will help reduce international crises the United States might otherwise have had to mitigate. Preventing these population-driven crises by providing financial and educational support today will save the United States billions of dollars.
Our country has so far ignored the serious effects of population growth all the way to our planet’s breaking point. Without action, we will be creating problems that our great nation can’t possibly handle. By focusing on negative population growth now and implementing these practical policies, we will be taking a fundamental step in addressing climate change. This is our nation’s last chance to take the prosperity our world has to offer and make it sustainable for generations to come.
Sir David Attenborough: an interview with the Wellcome Trust
Paul Gilding: The Earth is full
Professor Paul Ehrlich: Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?
The Earth in 500 years
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