David Attenborough in his testament statement on his show A Life on the Planet, said there was a straightforward way out of our world crisis. I found this very difficult to believe. He said we had to re-wild the planet and we could do it, so that 100 years from now the planet will be wild again.
One of my favorite environmental writers, George Monbiot, a columnist for the The Guardian said something similar. Since two of my favorite environmentalists made a similar statement, I decided I should pay attention.
Attenborough said every species reaches a natural limit of its population. That is the population that can be supported by our planet. Anything more makes our life here unsustainable.
Because there is nothing restricting us, during my lifetime, the human population has been growing dramatically. During my lifetime so far, the population has grown from approximately 2.5 billion people to 8.2 billion. That is a pretty big increase. Scientists are predicting that there will be 11 billion people on earth by 2100. That is about when my youngest granddaughter will reach 80 years old (I hope).
We could stop population growth before it reaches that point. Japan has stopped its population growth. They are actually worrying about not having enough people and are encouraging their citizens to have more children, but the people of Japan are resisting.
The birth rate fell in the last half of the 20th century as their standard of living grew. Their population growth has stabilized. Attenborough says, there are signs that it is happening around the world. The number of children being born around the world and the growth of the population is about to level off. It is likely that the population growth of the world will peak in the near future for the first time. That will make everything we have to do easier, says Attenborough. But not easy.
What we need to do is help people to live better! In other words, we should help people get out of poverty, give all access to health care, and enabling people, girls in particular, to stay in school as long as possible, we can make the world’s population peak sooner and at a lower level.
Why wouldn’t we want to do that? Many will say they don’t want to pay for this. But this would benefit all of us! Not just those in the poorer countries. All of us benefit from this approach! We should help others to reach these goals for our selfish reasons! Because it will be good for us!
But we have to raise the standard of living of people around the world without raising their impact. Attenborough says there are ways that we can do this. That is the challenge.