Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

David Attenborough: 'Population Growth Must Come to an End'

Popular

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 "My suspicion is that people will realize that actually the United States' attitude is outdated, it doesn't apply anymore, and I think that will be overcome.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."

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch