That most extraordinary man Sir David Attenborough has proved himself even more worthy of accolade. Mind you, he and many others have been saying this for years – the statistics are in.
This morning he is reported in the Daily Telegraph with a grabbing headline:
What a wonderful man. The rest of us are so pleased that he has community standing, is considered a National Treasure and therefore worth quoting.
The number of times it has been said that we are eating our way out of house and home and helping to extinguish the hard fought lives of other species on this planet seems not to take much root in people’s (and that, inevitably, means governments) minds.
I remember a much gentler man decades ago who was so enraptured with our planet and the life abounding on it, that his enthusiasm galvanised his audiences all around the world.
His transparent delight in making the documentaries that he did for all of us warmed and informed everyone. He is also a patron of Optimum Population Trust (now known as Population Matters).
I am also a subscriber to Population Matters, an organisation that has been in existence for a long time now and those of us who are members are well aware that humans have reached a point where our thirst for knowledge and wonderfully inventive and intelligent curiosity has given us the sort of technology that can help keep us alive at both ends of life thus increasing the pressures on the planet.
The past 200 years has changed the world drastically. Hans Rosling is an enthusiastic statistician who has made the presentation of data much more accessible to us than before. Here is Gapminder – a fact-based world view of how much change those 200 years have wrought.
Instead of the sort of infant mortality rate we suffered as late as the late 19th century, which is hard to estimate because of the lack of organised public health data but about 25 – 33% depending on locale, we have been able to save more and more of our babies and their mothers so that infant mortality has dropped to between less than 3% in Scandinavian countries to about 12% or more again depending on locale.
At the other end of life, we have increased our average life span from about 40 years in the 19th century to around 67 years in the beginning of this 21st century. Of course, in western post industrial countries the tendency to be able to hang on to life until 83 years or so is easier.
The article in The Tele has (at this point) some 1,200 comments (rapidly growing!) and I am horrified at the vitriol, racist, elitist and downright nasty comments posted. One of the problems we have to overcome is seeing ourselves nationally, patriotically and class oriented. Until we are able to see the globe as a whole living place then the sort of revolting nastiness espoused in the comments will keep contributing to our species’ and all others’ demise.
Disheartening to say the least. I know it is only one paper and one set of comments, but … it is attitudinal. It is like climate change denying.
The globe can no longer afford these attitudes and our educational curricula just aren’t keeping pace with what is needed to educate the next generation.
I have three grandchildren; the youngest is 3 years old. It is predicted that by 2030, England will have reached carrying capacity (it has been updated recently). She will be prime breeding age. The future does not augur well.
I am with Attenborough on this one – Homo sapiens is a plague species. Our cortex hasn’t had time to evolve to a point where control over our more ancient hind brain can be trusted. Intelligence doesn’t appear to be an evolutionary advantage. It seems a bleak future indeed.