Population growth must stop, says Sir David Attenborough
Posted by Admin on April 24, 2011
By Liz Thomas
21st April 2011
Sir David Attenborough has warned that population growth must be stopped in order to offer a ‘decent life’ for all.
The wildlife broadcaster said people were shying away from accepting that the world’s resources cannot sustain current levels of population growth.
‘There cannot be more people on this Earth than can be fed,’ he writes in the New Statesman.
‘The sooner we stabilise our numbers, the sooner we stop running up the down escalator – and we have some chance of reaching the top; that is to say, a decent life for all.’
Sir David, 84, said the global population is over six billion and will hit nine billion in 30 years, but ‘there seems to be some bizarre taboo around the subject’.
‘We now realise that the disasters that continue increasingly to afflict the natural world have one element that connects them all – the unprecedented increase in the number of human beings on the planet,’ he added.
‘All these people, in this country and worldwide, rich or poor, need and deserve food, water, energy and space. Will they be able to get it? I don’t know.’
Sir David said there was a ‘taboo’ tackling the subject and that people shied away from stating the fact that a world’s resources cannot sustain current levels of population growth.
He said: ‘There seems to be some bizarre taboo around the subject. This taboo doesn’t just inhibit politicians and civil servants who attend the big conferences.
‘It even affects the environmental and developmental non-governmental organisations, the people who claim to care most passionately about a sustainable and prosperous future for our children.’
The 84-year-old praised controversial 18th century demographer Thomas Malthus, who argued that populations increase until they are halted by ‘misery and vice’.
He added: ‘The population of the world is now growing by 80 million a year. One and a half million a week. A quarter of a million a day.
‘The government’s chief scientist and the last president of the Royal Society have both referred to the ‘perfect storm’ of population growth, climate change, and peak oil production, leading inexorably to more and more insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy.’
The global population is now in excess of six billion and is predicted to hit nine billion within 30 years.
Experts have predicted that the British population – which is currently around 62million – will increase to 70million by 2029.
A report by the sustainable development group Forum For The Future said Britain would struggle to handle such growth. The increase in population would be ‘catastrophic’ and put unsustainable pressure on housing, schools and hospitals as well as natural resources.
Current trends will see a city the size of Bristol added to the population of the UK every year for the next two decades.
Sir David’s comments follow a similar warning from BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham.
The Springwatch presenter suggested offering Britons tax breaks to encourage them to have smaller families.
He effectively endorsed China’s controversial one-child policy, which sees couples who adhere to the rule given a lump sum on retirement.
But he stopped short of suggesting people should be penalised for having too many children.
Packham, 49, who has no children of his own, told Radio Times: ‘By 2020, there are going to be 70million people in Britain. Let’s face it, that’s too many.’
He added: ‘There’s no point bleating about the future of pandas, polar bears and tigers when we’re not addressing the one single factor that’s putting more pressure on the ecosystem than any other – namely the ever-increasing size of the world’s population.’
Packham suggested offering couples a financial incentive as ‘a carrot’ to persuade them to have fewer – or no – children.
He said: ‘I would offer them tax breaks for having small families: say, 10 per cent off your tax bill if you decide to stick with just one child. And an even bigger financial incentive if you choose not to have a family at all.’
‘I question the way, for example, people have two children with one partner, then split up and have two with their next partner, just to even up the score.
‘Fact is, we all eat food, breathe air and require space, and the more of us there are, the less of those commodities there are for other people and, of course, for the animals.’
- Population growth must stop, says Sir David Attenborough (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Population growth must stop, says Sir David Attenborough (dailymail.co.uk)
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- Population stabilisation is fundamental to overall health (yubanet.com)
- Sir David Attenborough on Conservation and Population (evolvingcomplexityii.wordpress.com)
- Sir David Attenborough’s TV life (guardian.co.uk)
- Sir David Attenborough insists we must tackle population growth by contraception (dailymail.co.uk)
- BBC presenter Chris Packham says ‘save the planet, have fewer babies’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Earth does not have a cancer; the cancer is not man (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Immigration and the Green Party (ledbulbsandlights.wordpress.com)
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