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David Attenborough Calls Humans a 'Plague on Earth'

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While David Attenborough has never been shy about expressing his views on population control (he became a patron of the Optimum Population Trust in 2009), in a new interview with Radio Times, he warns either we fix our numbers, or the planet will fix them for us.

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

“We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves — and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse.”

Attenborough’s comments comes on the heels of a new UN report that estimates humanity will number 9.3 billion individuals in 2050, and then hit 10.1 billion by 2100. Unless we get creative, our current resources will likely not be able to support that many people – something Hampshire College developmental studies professor Betsy Hartmann tells i09 will have to be addressed eventually.

“The real challenge that lies ahead is how to plan for the addition of 2-3 billion additional people in environmentally sustainable and socially equitable ways,” she writes. “It can be done, but it will take a lot of ingenuity, innovation, and above all, political will. What doesn’t help is getting caught in the apocalyptic Malthusian trap that the planet cannot possibly support that many people. Barring major catastrophes – thermonuclear war, an asteroid strike, the plague of all plagues – it will have to. The question is not if, but how.”

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  • I completely agree with David A. We need to set population limits NOW, and then place a sinking lid until we reach sustainable levels. Breeding is NOT a necessity when we have such vast numbers of people. However, thanks to limp wristed politicians the planet will need to intervene, and I promise you, the solution this planet comes up with will not be pretty.

  • sue

    They need to put a limit on how many children you are allowed to have . Too many people on welfare because they pay all your bills so they just keep having babies so they can stay on welfare and not work. In California they pay your utilities, rent food, medical and you get cash monthly for having children. There has to be a limit on how many years you can be on welfare as well. No wonder they have an agenda, but that’s not the solution , depopulation by Government is unacceptable since they did nothing to stop this. I blame them for not acting on this as soon as it became an issue.

  • The problem is human medicine, People need to allow themselves to die naturally. We live to long to keep the natural cycle alive.

  • Lisa Sears

    I’ve always loved his photographs, but had no idea he thought our growing population is a huge reason the world’s in trouble. One more reason to admire the man!

  • William Hofmeyr

    In most fields, I am no Sinophile, but isn’t it a bit illogical that China, which comprises about a fifth of all humanity, takes a load of flack for its proactive stance on population containment/reduction?

  • Daniel Oliver Jost

    And what a brilliant man the Great David Attenborough is! I believe Homo Sapiens is even a mistake of Mother Nature – even in near perfect Nature this can sometimes happen… I personally quite like to identify myself with the philosophy of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Voluntary-Human-Extinction-Movement/104064222963013?ref=ts&fref=ts

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