ACT Writing Essay Sample: Population Growth

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Population Growth

Since the Industrial Revolution, the growth rate of Earth's human population has increased dramatically. It took mankind until the 1800s to reach one billion, but only 120 years after that to reach two billion, and less than 40 years after that to reach three billion. We continue to increase our numbers, currently measuring in at 7.3 billion in 2015. Some express a great deal of concern about this trend, arguing that the increasing population uses more resources than the planet can provide and encourages harmful practices such as deforestation and industrial pollution. Others say that while our population is at higher numbers than ever before and the subsequent problems are very real, the issues are caused less by the actual number of people and more by the unequal distribution of resources.

Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about human population growth.

Perspective One

Overpopulation is one of the most serious environmental issues humans face. Our increasing numbers are causing myriad problems from loss of fresh water to extinction of species to lowered life expectancy in developing countries.

Perspective Two

The number of people on earth is not a problem. We only have 7 billion, while scientists predict our planet can support up to 10 billion. The real problem is the unequal distribution of resources. A more equitable use of water, land, food, and fuel would eliminate many of the problems we currently face.

Perspective Three

Though our population numbers are higher than they've ever been, this is not a cause for alarm. Our growth rate is already beginning to slow. As we approach critical mass, that decrease in rate will continue until we're at "replacement" levels of reproduction, allowing the human race to continue without drastically increasing the overall numbers.

Essay Task

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the issues connected with population growth. In your essay, be sure to:

-analyze and evaluate the perspectives given

-state and develop your own perspective on the issue

-explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

Essay Sample

The effects of population growth are very real issues for humans. As advances in medical technology increase our life expectancy and reproductive abilities, we find ourselves in the position of making lots more humans who in turn make lots more humans who then make even more humans, and the next thing we know, we're measuring our increases in billions. Our planet has a finite number of resources that are already challenged, and continuing to increase the number of humans on the planet will do nothing but further strain those resources. In order to alleviate the stresses of an overburdened planet, we need a more equitable and "green" distribution of resources and better global reproductive education.

Our planet provides all our resources for us, but we aren't using them responsibly. In some countries, people throw away tons of uneaten food while in other countries people hardly even get food to begin with. In some countries, people run clean water straight down the drain, simply waiting for it to warm up, while in other countries families walk several hours to collect a large jug or two of water for the whole day. Some countries, like Singapore and Hong Kong, have more than 18,000 people for every square mile, while in Alaska, the population averages out to just over one person per square mile. Although Perspective 2 fails to factor in the very real problem of increasing human numbers, the idea that problems are compounded by unequal distribution of resources is quite true. Perspective 1 places the blame squarely on the numbers themselves, but that's only part of the problem. Even such sustainable resources as oil and wind power have limits on how much can be harnessed in a given time. We have geographical limits on the number of oil wells we can dig, the number of wind turbines we can erect, how much potable water is available on our planet, and how much livestock can be produced for goods like food, leather, and wool. In order to ease the strain we place on our planet, we must consider ways to use the resources we have in a more responsible, sustainable, and equitable way.

The second thing we need to do is make sure our populations worldwide are educated about reproductive rates. Perspective 3 says that our population growth rate will naturally level off as we approach critical mass, but that seems a little idealistic. With increases in medical technology, humans in developed countries are living much longer than before. Our life expectancy in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two hundred years. In addition to folks living longer, advances in reproductive technology have allowed couples and individuals to reproduce who would not have had that ability a hundred years ago. While these advances are exciting and beneficial, they also skew the numbers higher than they would be otherwise. In order to maintain the human race without drastically increasing our numbers, we need to aim for the "replacement level" of reproduction, a level that aims for a one-to-one ratio between adult and child while also factoring in mortality rates. Ideally, the human race would sustain a population growth rate of zero. Though families such as the Duggars may make for entertaining television and dramatic magazine covers, giant families are no longer beneficial for the sustainability of the human race as a whole. It's not necessary to eliminate people or cease to care for the elderly or sick. We can support the number we have. As Perspective 2 points out, we have some time. We simply need to take advantage of that time to do something now rather than later.

The perpetuation of the human race is a good goal. We need to be aware of how we're growing, though, and make decided efforts to use our resources wisely and equitably, and educate everyone about ways to slow our growth rate so we don't run the danger of reaching the point of critical mass.

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