David Attenborough and population

Population Matters Patron Sir David Attenborough is a beloved broadcaster and national treasure. It’s probably no exaggeration to say that nobody has inspired as many people to care about the environment as he has, which is why we should pay attention to his take on the impacts of population growth.

All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder – and ultimately impossible – to solve with ever more people.

Sir David Attenborough

His love and compassion for other species is infectious, and many people have been moved to tears by his documentaries (remember that walrus scene in Our Planet?). Most importantly, he is one of the few public figures who is outspoken about the root causes of our environmental crises:

“As I see it, 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.”

As reflected in the ‘IPAT’ equation and similar scientific formulas, our impact on the planet is a product of our consumption habits and our numbers, and depending on the technology in question, this can either have an amplifying effect (e.g. mass production, industrial agriculture), or a reducing effect (e.g. renewable energy).

While the need to end overconsumption and improve technologies is uncontested by most environmentalists, many still shy away from addressing the population factor. But not Sir David, and we are incredibly proud to include him as a patron at Population Matters.

Watch David Attenborough talk about the problem of unsustainable population growth in an interview with the Wellcome Trust

Population Matters

Population Matters is a UK-based charity working with partners, friends and stakeholders globally to achieve a better future for people and planet. Like Sir David, our vision is of a future in which our population co-exists in harmony with nature and prospers on a healthy planet, to the benefit of all.​ You can find out more about Population Matters here.

How can I help?

Population Matters is the only UK-based organisation working on population issues today. If, like Sir David, you think that it is important to address population growth with ethical, choice-based and positive solutions, please consider making a donation.


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