David Attenborough has described humans as a "plague on Earth" that need to slow down breeding to stop the world's population being reduced by more brutal means.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the beloved naturalist said the impact of the rapidly increasing population "will come home to roost over the next 50 years or so."

david attenborough

Sir David Attenborough said it was not an 'inhumane' thing to say


Finding food for the human 'hordes' is as just big a threat to survival as global warming, he said.

“It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde," he told the magazine.

“Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us. The natural world is doing it for us right now.

Quick Poll

Do you agree with David Attenborough's views on population?

VOTE

“We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening.

"Too many people there. They can’t support themselves — and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case.

"Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse.”

ethipea

Ethiopians crowd a rural road as they queue up to be examined at a Medecins Sans Frontierers

Controlling population is reminiscent of China’s ‘one child policy’ that restricts families from having more than one child in urban areas and has been heavily criticised for the way it has been enforced.

The 86-year-old TV presenter is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust and has been outspoken on the issue of population growth before.

david attenborough

We all love David Attenborough's programmes: but what do we think of his views?

In a lecture for the campaign group, which believes that reducing the world's population will lessen environmental problems, Attenborough said .

“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.”

“All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people and harder — and ultimately impossible to solve — with ever more people.”

worlds population

Too many people on the planet?

After the world's population tipped past the 7bn mark in October 2011, environmentalist Dr John Guillebaud, who is co-chairman of OPT told the Huffington Post UK: “Either we [reduce population growth] the gentle humane way of family planning... or nature will do it to us in lots of very horrible ways which will be starvation and disease.

Fred Pearce, environmental reporter and author of Peoplequake, told Huffington Post UK at the time: "The issue for me is about consumption, for which there are worrying statistics.

"We are not overpopulated in an absolute sense, we’ve got the technology for 10 billion, probably 15 billion people, to live on this planet and live good lives. What we haven’t done is developed our technology."

However for the moment, Attenborough thinks it's his own job that may become extinct. He told the Radio Times:

"The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.

"It’s much cheaper to get someone in front of a camera describing animal behaviour than actually showing you [the behaviour]. That takes a much longer time. But the kind of carefully tailored programmes in which you really work at the commentary, you really match pictures to words, is a bit out of fashion now … regarded as old hat.”

When asked of the issue that needed most redress, he said: "We really need to kick the carbon habit and stop making our energy from burning things. Climate change is also really important. You can wreck one rainforest then move, drain one area of resources and move onto another but climate change is global.”

David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities, is on Eden, Tuesdays at 8pm from 29th January

Loading Slideshow...
  • Araripe Manakin. (Photo credit: Ciro Albano)

  • Great Indian Bustard (Photo credit: Rahul Sachdev)

  • Willow Blister (Photo credit: David Harries)

  • Black Rhino (Photo credit: Save the Rhino International)

  • Amsterdam Albatross (Photo credit: Eric van der Vlist)

  • Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Photo credit: Atherton de Villiers)

  • Archey's frog (Photo credit: New Zealand Department of Conservation)

  • Geometric Tortoise (Photo credit: Erik Baard)

  • Red Crested Tree Rat (Photo credit: Lizzie Noble Fundacion ProAves)

  • Okinawa Spiny Rat (Photo credit: Norihiro Kawauchi)