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Sabyasachi Patra
22-07-2012, 10:04 PM
I am sharing an article that was published in the Belfast Telegraph.
Sabyasachi

Sir David Attenborough: We've only ourselves to blame for this awful summer
Nick Harding
Monday, 16 July, 2012

Sir David Attenborough believes the washout summer may be down to climate change. As a credible explanation he points to research by the University of Sheffield which suggests melting Arctic ice has slowed the jet stream, causing it to break into loops which have ushered to the UK unseasonably cold and wet weather systems.

And he is convinced humans are the main cause of this.

"There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it," he says. "I would be absolutely astounded if population growth and industrialisation and all the stuff we are pumping into the atmosphere hadn't changed the climatic balance. Of course it has. There is no valid argument for denial."

Over the 60 years Sir David has been a broadcaster, he has seen the planet change at a staggering rate. Wildlife paradises he visited in his early career have been decimated and he views the future with pessimism. "I'm not optimistic," he says. "The climate, the economic situation, rising birth rates; none of these things give me a lot of hope or reason to be optimistic."

The one ray of hope and possible solution Sir David does offer is a global slowdown in birth rate. At 86, he has become an unlikely poster boy for the population control movement.

"Population is one of my concerns. I'm not planning to contribute to it any more, but it is an interest."

During his lengthy career, the naturalist has watched humanity more than double from 2.5 billion in 1950 to nearly seven billion. He believes the profound effects of this rapid growth on humans and the environment are unsustainable and that the matter needs to be addressed urgently before nature takes its own action.

"We cannot continue to deny the problem. People have pushed aside the question of population sustainability and not considered it because it is too awkward, embarrassing and difficult. But we have to talk about it.

The only ray of hope I can see and it's not much is that wherever women are put in control of their lives, both politically and socially; where medical facilities allow them to deal with birth control and where their husbands allow them to make those decisions, birth rate falls. Women don't want to have 12 kids of whom nine will die."

He does not, however, advocate implementing population policies similar to China's controversial one child edict. "Draconian measures making it illegal to bear children with horrible punishments for infringement are not going to work. You have to convince the population that it is in their interests and make it possible for them to do something. The fact is, if we don't do something, nature will. "Quite simply, we will run out of food. People talk about doom-laden scenarios happening in the future: they are happening in Africa now. You can see it perfectly clearly. Periodic famines are due to too many people living on land that can't sustain them."

For this reason, he explains, growing crops to create green biofuels is a waste of valuable resources. "Biofuels may be palliative in the short term in terms of greener energy. But in the long term we are going to run out of space to grow food, which is more important than finding alternative ways to power Rolls-Royces and superjets."

Few presenters can boast Sir David's breadth of experience. He is not keen on the phrase "national treasure", but it is an apt description of the man who began his career in 1952 as a producer in the factual department of the BBC's fledgling television department. In 1965 he became controller of BBC2 and commissioned The Old Grey Whistle Test and Monty Python's Flying Circus. His interest in natural history led him to resign the post to return to full-time programme making. His seminal Life series, which began with Life on Earth in 1979, set the benchmark for all other natural history TV documentaries.



Source article: Sir David Attenborough: We've only ourselves to blame for this awful summer - Environment, News - Belfasttelegraph.co.uk (http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/environment/sir-david-attenborough-weve-only-ourselves-to-blame-for-this-awful-summer-16185461.html)

Abhishek Jamalabad
22-07-2012, 11:40 PM
Many of us often overlook the problem of population growth when we think of conservation. Yet, in our country (and no doubt the world over) one can trace the roots of almost all crises to population explosion. Sir Attenborough has also rightly mentioned biofuels here- people seem to have gone overboard with the idea of biofuels. They are meant to be a partial replacement for fossil fuels, and they are in most cases supposed to be derived from waste (for example 1:9 ethanol:diesel blends), but it appears as though certain people want to make huge profits out of it, even going to the extent of occupying land to cultivate it.

Sabyasachi Patra
23-07-2012, 10:57 PM
I fully agree that population is an area that is often overlooked. I am often dismayed by the response of the so called educated class who feel just because they have money, so they can have more kids. Long back, in a letters to editor, Sobha Dey (the socialite) had argued that since she is affluent she should have the right to have more kids than people who don't have more money. Though I don't agree with Sanjay Gandhi's actions about forcible operations, these kinds of views of affluent people should be having more kids or your kid needs company kind of arguments need to be condemned as well.

Bio-fuels is another area which doesn't help the environment. When I was a kid, I remember reading an article that there are lot of lands unused near the railway tracks and those can be used for the jatropha cultivation and it will help in bio-fuels. Perhaps the person who had written that article has no idea about environment. In a number of places the tracks pass either near wetlands or forests or other areas which has its own unique micro ecosystem. Ultimately what happens is that the productive fields are used for these cash crops. For how long can we run away from attacking the root cause? The best way is to improve the public transport. That will help more people stay away from their own transport.

The kind of taxation in Singapore also acts as a detriment and helps. There are various categories. There are certain registrations which allow you to drive vehicles only on the weekends. Most of the people use public transport. We can improve the public transport fast.