Monday 28 January 2013

Human conservation.

I love watching conservationist David Attenborough on television. Especially the new "Africa" series. I find David to be very easy listening and he narrates a good story. He has long been the guru of conservation especially after the death of sir Peter Scott. David has spent so many years on television that everyone in the world recognises his voice never mind his face. 

I have had a lifetime interest in conservation and so I suppose I meld with him on much of what he says. Though he has been benighted Sir David OM, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS, FZS, FRA also seems to prefer to be known as just plain David Attenborough. This I think is another one of his more endearing traits.

David Attenborough and a long list others including Partha Dasgupta, Paul Ehrlich, Shreela Flather, Jane Goodall, John Guillebaud, Susan Hampshire, James Lovelock, Aubrey Manning, Norman Myers, Chris Packham, Sara Parkin, Lionel Shriver, Crispin Tickell and Jonathan Porritt have between them more qualifications and recognitions for services to conservation and mankind than you could shake the proverbial stick at! But not only that, they are all patrons of the Optimum Population Trust.

In a recent interview in the Radio Times, David suggested that humans as a species are a plague on the environment. “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." 

Curmudgeon CommentThis is pretty strong stuff from Attenborough. I am minded of another David - conservationist David Bellamy. Who the BBC froze out because he held what was considered by the Beeb to be an extreme view. He did not and still does not believe in global warming.

Outspoken as ever, David Bellamy revealed why you don't see him on TV any more. Because he dismissed man-made global warming as "poppycock" in 2004. The BBC stopped giving him work and his career dried up as a result. David says global warming campaigners spat at him in street and sent him "paedophile" hate mail. It said: “David Bellamy is a paedophile because he doesn't believe in global warming and is killing our children. It’s just nonsense. For the last 16 years, temperatures have been going down and the carbon dioxide has been going up and the crops have got greener and grow quicker. We've done plenty to smash up the planet, but there’s been no global warming caused by man."

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David Attenborough and the long list of worthies that make the Optimum Population Trust are therefore proposing that there should be limits in place to control human populations. Alternatively, its going to be a bleak future and that nature will - as she has done it before (remember the black plague) will do it for us instead! 

Modern estimates suggest half of Europe's population was wiped out before the first incarnation of the plague disappeared in the 700s after killing up to 100 million people. Major epidemic diseases did not appear again in Europe until the plague we call the Black Death of the 14th century arrived. The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350, and killing up to a further 100 million people. All in all, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million to around 350 million in the 14th century. The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took another 150 years for Europe's population to recover. Mother nature can be quite extreme in correcting population imbalances. If Plague is a cyclic event, then one is due along sometime soon! If you broaden the scope a bit then the 1918-20 flu pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza outbreak which infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic and killed up to 50 million.

This talk of plagues is pretty heavy stuff, coming on the back of the furore about global climate change, which has taken over as the watch word for global warming. Just as there are proponents for and against global warming. There are proponents for and against population control. One of the biggest players against population control is of course the Catholic Church and its teachings. Batting for the other team are the Chinese, who as a nation have had laws in place to limit their own population growth for many years.

So what is the scale of the problem: As recently as the 1930's which is well within our parents or our grandparents youth. World population was some two billion compared with the seven billion living on the planet now. Absolute numbers are still rising at a rate of one and a half million every week.

In the UK each driver comes with its own problems. Annual population growth is the result of two main factors: natural increase, through more births than deaths and net migration, more immigrants than emigrants. These two alone would divide the population on ethical and moral grounds. Someone a while ago once said "The meek shall inherit the earth." I believe that the meek have already fulfilled that prediction. The meek majority however, meekly stand and do nothing about the rapacious minority. A minority that are fuelling the conservation and population conflagration. Change is going to be very difficult to bring about.

There are many challenges facing mankind over the next fifty to a hundred years or so. The Earth itself is a finite resource. Mankind has brought-about many changes and not always for altruistic reasons. I believe that all have had one driver, and that is economics. Rain forests are cleared for timber and growing oil palm for big businesses. Oil prospecting in ecologically sensitive parts of the world and the devastation that can be wreaked. Plus hundreds of other issues such as nuclear proliferation into ideological regimes. A general lack of women’s rights in the world and continuing poverty. It does not bode well for our children's future. Especially if they like us also meekly stand about and do nothing. We are not setting them a good example.



  1. Don't forget Noah and the Great Flood. This appears in all religions and is a great way of clearing out the masses!

    1. Hi Cesca.

      I'm not sure about the great flood. Is there some cataclysmic historical event that is the "lost in the mists of time," foundation of the story. Or maybe its another boogie man story intended to keep the churches flock in check. If it is true, then someone should have had a word with Noah (the original wide-beam owner) about the two mosquito he let aboard.

      Thanks for your comments.


    2. Hi Mick

      The story was investigated (by Joanna Lumley - well she narrated it) and it goes back to very early times in the Hindu religion (which is the oldest) I hesitate to put in the earliest references but I think around 5000BC. Also appears in Islam and many others. There was definitely a Great Flood and the name Noah appears in various guises. Interesting program.


    3. Hi Kath, I seemed to have missed the wonderful Joanna Lumley on the flood. Her talents have been tested over the years. Progressing from model to straight actress through comedy to voice overs and champion of the Gurkha's of Nepal. I will never forget the fear in the eyes of Phil Woolas the government minister when she mugged him in front of the cameras. If one actress should be made a dame then its JL. Now, who is going to get into an argument with her - certainly not me.

      Now, a question... Fiat Panda, is yours one of the four wheel drive versions? I remember seeing one some years ago and thinking 4x4 shopping trolley, whatever next. Saying that my sister has an original datsun cherry. It must be well over 30 years old and it looks like new. However, it is only ever used for shopping on a saturday. Otherwise its kept in a centrally heated garage!


    4. No the Panda is not the 4x4 version though I did consider it. Shopping Trolley how very dare you ! ! !

      The Panda is lovely and has been a true work horse, with the split sliding rear seats there is very little I can't get into it and anything really huge has gone on the roof bars or been towed with the tow bar. (Fitted the tow bar for bike rack). It has pulled a large van out of trouble when it failed to make the turning at the top of the lane.

      I used to have a Diesel Fiesta 1600 that regularly had to tow the electric milk float back to the depot when it ran out of enough oomph to get back over the canal bridge in Worksop. I also used it at least once to tow a horse trailer with horse to an event - if we had gone over the Fiesta would have been like a beetle on its back! Don't knock small cars. They have a big heart.


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