Echoing the long-ago debunked notions of Paul Erlich’s “The Population Bomb,” Attenborough told the London Telegraph, “We are a plague on the Earth. 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.”
He’s simply wrong. The evidence shows that technological advancement is making the human race less of a “burden” on the Earth.
For one thing, people are migrating to cities — and that reduces their “carbon footprint.”
“In 1950, 29 percent of the world’s population lived in cities,” the Cato Institute points out. “By 2050, 67 percent of people will live in cities. City dwellers have less of an impact on the environment than do rural dwellers.”
That’s because, according to scientist David Dodman, “When you have a critical mass of people like in London or New York, public transport becomes a feasible option for many, while people in more rural areas rely more on cars.”
In fact, “Per capita emissions in New York, Toronto and Barcelona are only a third of their national average, and the emissions of Tokyo, London and Seoul come in at about half of their countries’ level,” he found.
Attenborough also claims we’re hurting ourselves, not just the planet.
But that’s not the case at all. Famines are almost always political events, unrelated to population levels and even to the weather.
“To start with, population density in Monaco is 17,676 people per square kilometer,” Cato explains. “It is 79 people per square kilometer in Ethiopia. Monaco is one of the richest countries in the world and Ethiopia one of the poorest. If anything, there is an inverse relationship between population density and poverty.”
Why is Ethiopia starving?
“First, Ethiopia was a Marxist dictatorship and like many Marxist dictatorships (USSR, PRC and Cambodia), it experienced both economic collapse and civil war,” Cato points out. “Second, Ethiopia has almost no economic freedom. All land, to give one example, is owned by the state — and the state can take it away. As a consequence, farmers have little incentive to make long term plans and undertake necessary investment, and agricultural production suffers.”
Our future is bright; technological advances are ensuring that. Attenborough’s programs on nature are educational and informed. His opinions, however — not so much.