Sir David Attenborough: Humans may be an endangered species

'You can't put infinity into something that's finite'

Christopher Hooton
Tuesday 30 December 2014 17:57
Comments

Of all the problems Sir David Attenborough has witnessed throughout the natural world, he sees none so pressing as the one facing our own species, which he believes could die out if we don't tackle booming populations.

Himself a patron of Population Matters, a UK charity advocating sustainable human populations, Attenborough believes more women around the world urgently need to be given political control of their bodies.

"It's desperately difficult, the dangers are apparent to anybody," he told The Independent.

"We can't go on increasing at the rate human beings are increasing forever because the Earth is finite and you can't put infinity into something that is finite.

"So if we don't do something about it then the world will do something about it - the natural world that is - we will starve.

"The only straw of comfort or of hope, and even that is pretty fragile, is that wherever women are given political control of their bodies, where they have the vote, education, appropriate medical facilities and they can read and have rights and so on, the birth rate falls, there's no exceptions to that.

"There are still quite a lot of parts of the world where those things don't apply, so those of us who live in the parts where they do apply ought to help the others to have that possibility."

But Attenborough fears that however extensive our efforts, they may not be sufficient in turning the tide.

"It won't be enough," he lamented, "But does that mean we don't do something about it?

"Just because you don't know the answer to the problem doesn't mean you shouldn't say there is one."

The naturalist's next series, Conquest of the Skies, sees him explore the evolution of flight, from stalking bird to gliding reptile, from parachuting mammal to the humble fly.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

He acknowledges that nature documentaries are changing fast in the digital age, but insists he won't be changing his approach to them.

"Simply because of my age, I'm out of tune with the way kids watch things," he said.

"It's no good me saying it's either better or worse, but it is different, it's more ubiquitous and attention spans and other factors have changed hugely, beyond recognition.

"The criteria which I work by may seem irrelevant to a younger generation, not to everybody, but overwhelmingly things have shifted and I'd be very foolish if i didn't recognise that.

"But I don't think I can shift the way I do things, the sort of programmes I make are the sort I enjoy making and demand a certain kind of attention to detail.

"A lot of natural history programmes made today are much more about the adventure of finding out than about what is found out, that's OK, but it's different."

David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies 3D starts 7pm, New Year's Day on Sky 3D and in 2D on Sky 1.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in