Dear Sir David Attenborough. Which of your siblings should have been killed?

The nutter from the Optimum Population Trust is ranting again:

Humans are plague on Earth – Attenborough
Humans are a plague on the Earth that need to be controlled by limiting population growth, according to Sir David Attenborough.

Oh aye?

The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.

He said the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

“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 told the Radio Times.

Sir David, who is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust, has spoken out before about the “frightening explosion in human numbers” and the need for investment in sex education and other voluntary means of limiting population in developing countries.

The first and most obvious question to ask in response is, \”Well Sir David. So, which two of your three siblings should have been killed then?\”

For population growth does indeed come from a couple having more than two children.

The second thing that should be pointed out here is that we do in fact know how to manage this process of curtailing growth in the number of humans.

Get rich.

Everywhere it has happened, everywhere this species of ours has gone from rural and Malthusian destitution to a bourgeois urban middle classness, the population growth rate has fallen like a stone. Indeed, so much so that it becomes the population contraction rate. It doesn\’t actually need you and Jonny Porritt demanding full body condoms for all. It only requires that people know they can eat three times a day, have a roof over their heads and that there\’s a decent chance that all the children they do have will survive into adulthood. Absent immigration there just isn\’t any population growth in the rich world. Far from it, there\’s contraction (to be absolutely accurate you have to adjust for it taking until the second generation of immigrants to reduce childbirth down to the rate of the indigenes).

And amazingly, we\’ve also cracked this \”Get Rich\” commandment. We do know how to do this. The last 30 years show us that we do as well. In essence, globalised markets. That\’s pretty much it actually. That is what has driven the largest reduction in poverty in the history of the species. Concurrent with which, and no, it ain\’t just coincidence, we\’ve seen every demographer rapidly revising down their numbers for future population.

Sure, there are things that can be done at the margin. Women who want contraception, great, campaign to get it to them. Why not? Do recall though that it\’s the wanting to use contraception which is important and drives 90% of actual fertility. Availability drives only 10% or so of it.

My suggestion is therefore, if you really are worried about population growth (as opposed to Porritt\’s insistence that there are just too many damn peasants), that you campaign for free trade. Will do more to reach your declared goal than anything else. In the absence of your doing so I\’ll just conclude that you are ignorant whereof you speak.

19 comments on “Dear Sir David Attenborough. Which of your siblings should have been killed?

  1. I’m not sure global free trade is sufficient, though it is necessary. A bit of innovation doesn’t hurt, like steering wheels instead of buggy whips.

  2. No, No, No how many more times do you meed to be told that unrestrained economic growth is impossible in a finite world!

    So we must all return as fast as possible to a sustainable subsistence economy. This would bring about full employment (everyone back on the land), universal organic farming, etc. etc. In fact Utopia will be here children

  3. >The first and most obvious question to ask in response is, “Well Sir David. So, which two of your three siblings should have been killed then?”

    Obviously it should have been David himself, he being the one who thinks this is a problem. But I suppose he will say that he needed to be spared so that he could save the Earth (just as AGW activists need to be allowed to go on planes).

    And this from The Telegraph was just embarrassing:

    “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.”

    You don’t hear much of that sort of outdated thinking even in green circles these days, as most of them are now at least aware that this sort of claim is ‘somewhat contested’. But Sir David appears not have to got that memo.

  4. Increased wealth is generally associated with increased education, especially for girls. I am not entirely convinced any more that the increased education causes the increased wealth- I’m wondering if it doesn’t go the other way.
    But increased education for girls, teaching them that they can have a career and children, if they only put off the children for a bit longer, winds up with a lot of them having less children.
    I tend to agree with your view as to the correct course of action for anyone signed up to the optimum population trust- clearly they should lead by example.

  5. “The first and most obvious question to ask in response is, “Well Sir David. So, which two of your three siblings should have been killed then?””
    A bit unfair as he is calling for people to be persuaded to do this voluntarily not by killing people.
    Actually getting rich is not enough. Not paying women (as we do in the UK) to have children helps.
    Which is why the population in Spain would fall
    if they didn’t have immigration.

  6. I suggest that we implement a system of compulsory euthenasia based on IQ then. We could also compulsorily sterilise anyone who is disabled or generally inferior.

    Surely if it is about saving the planet who could object.

    I’ve even thought of a name for it. We could call it “the final solution” (even though that sounds familiar).

    Do these idiots not get the fact that we can currently feed the entire population of the world now. It isn’t population that the problem but poverty.

    Still documentary’s don’t sound the same when they are narrated by Kenneth Brannagh.

  7. “Actually getting rich is not enough. Not paying women (as we do in the UK) to have children helps.
    Which is why the population in Spain would fall
    if they didn’t have immigration.”
    How topical!
    Our local paper tells me the town of Almáchar has just raised the grant for the birth of a child from 1500€ to 1600€.

  8. I wonder if, with his undoubted clout at the Beeb, cuddly, avuncular old Sir David was the one who orchestrated the shunning of his fellow, David Bellamy, for his unbelief in AGW?

  9. So, which two of your three siblings should have been killed then

    Three? Wiki indicates there were 4 ‘siblings’; Richard, John, Helga & Irene, for a total of 5 kids.

    (The latter two being adopted, but that’s really beside the point being made.)

  10. JuliaM – I think Attenborough is stupid enough to have played a role in that. He started to publicise the embarrassing hockey-stick at just about the time when M&M were starting to dismantle it.

  11. PJH: No, adoption is quite germane to the point. Attenborough is objecting to people having too many biological offspring, so it’s hardly fair to count in people who are not biological offspring.

  12. But Phil – if the parents wanted to adopt, why on earth did they have any biological offspring at all?

    Anyway, the point I was initially trying to make stands – Tim’s question is wrong in stating ‘…which three…’. It should be “..which of you and your two (or four) siblings..” –

    Unless you want to venture into the areas of cloning or psychiatry of course where you could be considered to be your own sibling…

    🙂

  13. Attenborough gets a pass. He’s always been careful to only speak about
    “…limiting population in developing countries.”

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  16. I suspect that David is not very bright, a bit like HRH Charlie, he just speaks the speak and walks the walk sounding knowledgeable.
    Let him free , without script and this is the result. I do seem to remember the old duffer standing in front of the Hockey stick graph and telling the audience it was the best evidence for AGW and it’s dangers ever seen.

    So David, you first you old bugger!

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