Task 3A: Overpopulation

Task 3A requires you to write an essay in which you discuss the problem of overpopulation, presenting your own ideas and responding to the points concerning this global challenge expressed by Walter in the excerpt from the novel “Freedom”, and using the information in the included graphs.

First, we will outline Walter’s points related to the topic and present the information in the graphs. After that, we will give you some points related to the issue of overpopulation.

Walter’s points concerning overpopulation

The excerpt provided in this part of the exam set from the novel Freedom by Jonathan Franzen reveals the character of Walter is strongly against overpopulation, as he thinks humans are to be blamed for environmental degradation; the more people on Earth, the more the environment suffers: “A net gain of seven million human beings (…) to clear-cut forests and befoul streams and pave over grasslands and throw plastic garbage into the Pacific Ocean and burn gasoline and coal and exterminate other species….”

From Walter’s point of view one of the causes of overpopulation is religion, which is combined with consumerist attitudes, media brainwashing, and people’s indifference to the Earth’s environment: “And it wasn't just religion, and it wasn't just the jumbo everything to which his fellow Americans seemed to feel uniquely entitled, it wasn't just the Walmarts...”; “The country that minutely followed every phony turn of American Idol while the world went up in flames…”

Consequently, Walter is critical of overpopulation because of the characteristics of human beings. It is not only overpopulation per se that concerns him, but the actions of the people born into this word who develop into ignorant, selfish consumerists which will eventually lead to destroying the Earth, or as Walter puts it, to a “nightmare future”.

Graphs on


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