Legendary filmmaker, broadcaster, and conservationist, David Attenborough has become a patron of the group Optimum Population Trust (OPT). The organization’s goal is to use education and policy to lower the world’s population.
“I’ve seen wildlife under mounting human pressure all over the world and it’s not just from human economy or technology – behind every threat is the frightening explosion in human numbers,” Attenborough said according to a press release from Optimum Population Trust. “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more. That’s why I support the OPT, and I wish the environmental NGOs would follow their lead, and spell out this central problem loud and clear.”
Sprawl in the desert: Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
In its effort to lower human population, OPT supports family-planning worldwide, education and equal rights for women, and a program that would encourage—not coerce—families to have no more than two children for the sake of the environment. The group aims to slow human population growth, so that instead of reaching 9.1 billion people by 2050, the global population levels out at 8 billion. The group believes a population of 5.1 billion would be sustainable.
“All serious environmentalists know perfectly well that population growth, exploding in the 20th century, has been a key driver of every environmental problem,” said OPT chair, Roger Martin. “It’s a fact, not an opinion, that total human impact is the average per person multiplied by the number of people. Yet for far too long, governments and environmental NGOs have observed a taboo – invented in the 1980s by a bizarre coalition of the religious right and the liberal left – on stating this obvious fact. So they keep on implying that our numbers can grow forever with no ill effects. It’s a ‘silent lie’ and by encouraging us to ignore the vital need to stabilise our numbers by humane means (contraception) before nature does it for us by inhumane, natural means (famine, disease, war) this absurd taboo betrays our children.”
Martin stated that he “delighted” to have Attenborough on board, and that he hoped the presence of the beloved filmmaker would encourage others to speak out. Other well-known patrons include Norman Meyers and Jane Goodall.
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