When I was 16, I decided to solve the biggest problem our world faces. Today our world contains so many people that we live alongside our own waste, as people wither away malnourished in underdeveloped countries, intelligent animals are abused to feed every mouth, and our climate deteriorates. Overpopulation is the most urgent problem we face; it aggravates every other issue people are trying to solve today, and ironically, it is one which receives little attention.
Today's Guest Blogger is Pascal Costa, a high school student who is trying to change the world for the better.
To alleviate the stress on our environment and solve overpopulation, I founded my nonprofit organization, Preventing Overpopulation (P.O.P.). P.O.P. will educate the public about overpopulation and encourage them to pledge to have two children or less, link up with existing networks providing sexual education, and through this supply an education on overpopulation. We need a voluntary two-child policy and better sex education; P.O.P. will implement just that.
Through researching climate change, pollution, factory farming, third world social conflicts, and GMOs, I realized all these problems share one cause: overpopulation. There are 7.5 billion people in the world who could stop our rapid growth if they understood what overpopulation caused, the financial burden of big families, and the environmental benefits of small families. My initial goal was to educate the public by creating a website that provided the information I had found, so that they would want to participate in a two-child policy. I animated a whiteboard video, with characters and cartoons about both climate change and the financial implications of big families, to better explain P.O.P. But, despite my best efforts, there was no initial support. No matter how I tried to explain what I was doing, people did not understand that P.O.P. aims to educate the family planning process, not dictate it.
Social media became my soapbox as I continued to spread news about P.O.P., its progress, and how it could completely change our future. I reached out to organizations with similar missions and took P.O.P. to a global scale, calling Population Council, Expert in Family Planning, and Planned Parenthood. Much to my surprise, I was shut out. Both the head of public affairs and the events coordinator for the Planned Parenthood Bay Area refused to associate with P.O.P.; they did not want women’s free choice to be constricted by my organization.
Initially, I lost confidence, feeling I was overstepping. But, I realized that there was lack of understanding of urgency and of my own mission. If we continue to grow at our current rate, we have 35 years until we reach 10 billion people, a quantity our planet cannot sustain. But, we can cut our numbers by 1.5 billion in one decade, if everyone had two children and the death rate remained constant. Women and men all over the world need to understand not only this but also how three or four kids will financially affect them, how they will affect our planet, and therefore our future.
We need people to know that each one of them has the potential to solve or slow the problems we all face. Despite Planned Parenthood’s initial reaction, I called president Cecile Richards to pitch my idea of blending P.O.P.’s information on overpopulation and family planning with Planned Parenthood’s current sex education curriculum. No will not be an answer, and I will persistently search for my open window.
Today P.O.P. has 33 pledges, and I have been invited to speak at a TEDx event as well as on KSCO radio in the spring. With your help, we can change our future, by saving our world for generations to come. P.O.P has made some progress, but it is still a young organization, in need of more support. You can do just that by joining the P.O.P. movement. Go to www.popoverpop.com and pledge, even if you already have kids, you can still help. We may be individuals of singular value, but we are capable of exponential effects. I will start a voluntary implementation of a two-child policy and will continue to discuss a more complete sex education curriculum with Planned Parenthood.
Overpopulation is a problem that still needs to be solved. Progress has been made but there’s still a ways to go; I look forward to the journey ahead.