Humans a plague on Earth, says naturalist

TV naturalist David Attenborough has warned that human beings have become a “plague on the Earth”.

The 86-year-old broadcaster said the negative effects of climate change and population growth would be seen in the next 50 years. The population is expected to rise from 7bn now to 9bn by 2050.

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.”

Attenborough has previously spoken out about the “frightening explosion in human numbers” and the urgent need for investment in sex education and other voluntary means of limiting population in developing countries.

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

In a previous lecture for the campaign group, he warned: “Humanity needs to reduce its impact on the earth urgently and there are three ways to achieve this: We can stop consuming so many resources; we can change our technology; and we can reduce the growth of our population.”

“All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people and harder — and ultimately impossible to solve — with ever more people.”

Attenborough, whose landmark series are repeated from Monday on BBC2, starting with Life on Earth, also said his style of presenting would soon be extinct.

“I’m not sure there’s any need for a new Attenborough,” he said. “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.”

Viewed by many as a British national treasure, the 86-year-old’s latest series, Natural Curiosities, starts next week on the Eden channel.

Best known for his BBC Life series, the natural history broadcaster is reportedly the only person

Tackling hunger

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu have thrown their weight behind a campaign aiming to combat malnutrition and hunger in the developing world.

One hundred development and faith British charities have united behind the Enough Food For Everyone IF coalition, urging British prime minister David Cameron to use Britain’s G8 presidency in 2013 to tackle the causes of hunger in the developing world.

The campaign, being billed as the largest coalition of its kind in Britain since Make Poverty History in 2005, warns that the “scandal” of children growing up hungry will trap almost 1bn young people in poverty by 2025 and cost the developed world €93bn over the next 15 years.

Mr Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town and a long-serving human rights campaigner, said: “Hunger is not an incurable disease or an unavoidable tragedy. We can make sure no child goes to bed hungry.

“We can stop mothers from starving themselves to feed their families. We can save lives. We can do all of this, if we are prepared to do something about it. If we challenge our leaders to take action. If they listen to us.

“It’s time the world’s decision-makers came to the right decision on hunger.

“It’s time to end the unnecessary suffering caused by the failure of the current food system. We can make hunger a thing of the past if we act now.”

Billionaire Mr Gates is also well-known for his philanthropic work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, most notably in combating malaria.

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