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Sir David Attenborough: 'We are a plague on the Earth'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Famed British naturalist and television presenter Sir David Attenborough has offered a particularly bleak view of the human race. "We are a plague on the Earth," Attenborough told the Radio Times. "It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Climate change and "sheer space," Attenborough says, are looming problems for humanity.

"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 said.

Another environmentalist offers the same bleak vision. Paul Ehrlich, the president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University and author of the 1968 study, "The Population Bomb" has long used language similar to Attenborough's. In addition, a 2011 analysis of species loss suggested that humans are beginning to cause a mass extinction on the order of the one that killed the dinosaurs.

When Ehrlich was asked about Attenborough's comments on humanity as its own scourge, he "completely agree[d], as does every other scientist who understands the situation.""

Ehrlich offers a highly controversial prescription to save humanity. "Government propaganda, taxes, giving every sexually active human being access to modern contraception and backup abortion, and, especially, giving women absolutely equal rights and opportunities with men might very well get the global population shrinkage required if a collapse is to be avoided," Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich says that providing free, reliable birth control to women could prevent between 41 percent and 71 percent of abortions in the United States. He cited a study detailed in the Oct. 4, 2012, issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Other scientists lent their support to the heart of Attenborough's message.

"It's clear that increasing population growth makes some of our biggest environmental challenges harder to solve, not easier," Jerry Karnas, population campaign director for the Center for Biological Diversity said.

"What's needed is not population control but a real emphasis on reproductive rights, women's empowerment, universal access to birth control and education, so more freedom for folks to make better, more informed family planning choices," Karnas added.

And population numbers would matter less for the planet's health if clean renewable energy were widely adopted as well as planning laws, he said.

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