The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
David Attenborough: 'Population Growth Must Come to an End'
Renowned naturalist David Attenborough sat down with BBC Newsnight for a wide-ranging interview about the environment and how the planet cannot accommodate the "alarming rate" of human overpopulation.
"One of the reasons that the population has increased as fast as it has is that people like me are living longer than we did," Attenborough explained. "And so there are more and more people just because the expectancy of life has increased."
Even now, with the world's current population of 7.6 billion, humanity uses up Earth's natural resources 1.7 times faster than the planet's ecosystems can regenerate, according to the Global Footprint Network. This ecological debt is poised to increase as the world population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, the United Nations projected.
As Attenborough noted, "In the long run, population growth has to come to an end."
The legendary English broadcaster, who spoke with the BBC on the 40th anniversary of his groundbreaking Life On Earth series, commented on a variety of environmental topics. He said he's eating much less meat: "We simply cannot destroy the natural forests and plains of the world in order to feed ourselves. We have to modify our diet." On the growing issue of plastic pollution, he said, "We should do our best to avoid the use of plastic."
Also in the interview, Attenborough admitted that up to five years ago he was "very, very pessimistic" about the future of the planet, but the landmark Paris agreement to combat climate change changed his attitude.
"The Paris agreement seemed at the time to be at last nations coming to their senses," he said.
Attenborough remains hopeful despite President Donald Trump's intention to withdraw from the international accord signed by nearly 200 countries.
"It is true that President Trump doesn't go along with it. To what extent the United States is going to withdraw from it, we'll see," he said. "My suspicion is that people will realize that actually the United States' attitude is outdated, it doesn't apply anymore, and I think that will be overcome.
"There's a groundswell internationally of recognizing what we are doing to the planet and the disaster that awaits unless we do something," Attenborough said. "This is the only world we've got."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.
Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Drilling on 300,000 Acres in Wyoming Until Government Considers Climate Impacts
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.