[TheLandIsOurs] Sir David Attenborough: humans become a "plague on the Earth"

david bangs dave.bangs at virgin.net
Tue Jan 22 16:21:13 GMT 2013

I am surprised that Mark, a socialist, should seek to promote the 'populationist' views of David Attenborough, which are shallow, and with the thinnest factual basis.

I think, indeed, that population is a major problem, but not as the dominant and singular cause of the extinction event which we are currently crashing through. 

For that we have to look at capitalism, with population in a secondary and derivative role.

See below an extract from a paper produced as part of a debate on this topic in my own organisation (Socialist Resistance). I'd love to link to the whole paper, but I can't, becos it was part of an internal discussion and I do not have the permission of the authors, but I don't think they will mind me just providing the following extract. (The paper was written as a critique of an originating paper).

In short, the quote points out that the fertility rate is already in steep decline...the catastrophic extinction event is not caused by women (especially poor world women) having too many babies...

Dave Bangs

Ecosocialism and Population

The scale of the issue


B starts this section with a rehearsal of a series of figures given by Laurie Mazur in her book A Pivotal Moment, indicating the near-trebling of world population in the last 60 years.  What is left out is the cause of this increase: this is entirely due to the 70% in the decline infant mortality rate and the 43% increase in life expectancy, and not due to “women having too many children”.  This is how the population can rise, while the average number of children a woman has (fertility rate) has nearly halved.


Here are the figures:

      Fertility Rate (children / woman)
      Infant Mortality (under 1 year, per 1,000 live births)
      Life Expectancy (years)
      Population Growth Rate (%/year)
     2.2 (max, 1963)


For B, the headline figure is the 80 million current annual increase in population, which he likens to “one USA” every four years – a metaphor also used by Laurie Mazur.  B points out that “long-term predictions [of population] are notoriously inaccurate”, but he doesn’t say that they have always overestimated the numbers and fertility rates, despite underestimating rises in life expectancy.


For what it’s worth, the UN’s best estimate for 2050 is 9.1bn and 8.1bn for 2030.





  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: mark at tlio.org.uk 
  To: TheLandisOurs at yahoogroups.com ; diggers350 at yahoogroups.com 
  Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 1:29 PM
  Subject: [TheLandIsOurs] Sir David Attenborough: humans become a "plague on the Earth"

  Sir David Attenborough warns that humans are 'a plague on the Earth'
  The 86-year-old broadcaster said the negative effects of climate 
  change and population growth would cause disaster within next 50 


  Sir David Attenborough has warned that the human race has become a 
  "plague on the Earth".

  The 86-year-old broadcaster said the negative effects of climate 
  change and population growth would cause disaster within next 50 

  He told the Radio Times: "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.

  "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 co-ordinated view 
  about the planet, it's going to get worse and worse."

  Sir David is a patron of the charity Population Matters, which aims to 
  limit population growth through programmes such as contraception 

  Sir David, whose landmark series are being repeated on BBC2, also said 
  that his style of presenting would soon be extinct.

  He told the magazine: "I'm not sure there's any need for a new 
  Attenborough. The more you go on, the less you need people standing 
  between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.

  "It's much cheaper to get someone in front of a camera describing 
  animal behaviour than actually showing you (the behaviour). That takes 
  a much longer time.

  "But the kind of carefully tailored programmes in which you really 
  work at the commentary, you really match pictures to words, is a bit 
  out of fashion now... regarded as old hat."

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