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David Attenborough & The Population Matters Organisation

May 11, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Apparently the new Antarctic research vessel is to be named after David Attenborough. It is perhaps worth reflecting then that he is a patron of the Population Matters organisation, which quotes him as saying:





Their website lists these Policy Positions:


We recommend policies to address unsustainable population growth. Our full positions are summarized below:


People on a train


Along with consumption growth and industrial practices, population growth increases damage to the environment and depletes natural resources. We believe that human numbers should be reduced voluntarily to a sustainable level that enables an acceptable quality of life for all.

A stable and ethical transition to a sustainable population level would take several generations. Given that human activity already exceeds Earth’s capacity to support it at an acceptable consumption level for all, mainly due to overconsumption in the developed world, we should begin without delay.


Development and climate change

Development is a consequence of and contributor to improved reproductive health and women’s empowerment. We support sustainable development.

Population growth increases the number of wealthy carbon emitters and poorer climate change victims and hampers mitigation and adaptation efforts. Meeting the unmet need for family planning services is a cost-effective strategy. We support “contraction and convergence with a population base year” to achieve climate equity, i.e. reducing inequality in carbon emissions per head by allocating to each country a fixed tonnage of carbon emissions based on equal shares.



Women’s rights and reproductive health

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are essential for reproductive health, economic development and population stabilization. We therefore support programmes to improve the status of women.

Reproductive health reduces poverty, empowers women and stabilizes population. We urge universal access to appropriate family planning services. This includes training for professionals and sex and relationships education.



Migration often results from conflict, poverty, inequality or population and consumption pressures. We call for fair trade terms and increased foreign aid and knowledge transfer to promote sustainable development, global justice and resilience. Such aid should support gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Each country must limit its dependence on others and balance consumption and resources. For most countries, achieving sustainability would require decreased consumption and both smaller families and reduced immigration. Immigration policies should be nondiscriminatory and reflect asylum-seekers’ and refugees’ rights. Countries that have free movement of labour agreements with each other should coordinate their policies.


Elderly couple

Ageing and parenthood

We reject the case that more young people are required to care for an increasing number of elderly. Those young people would in turn grow old — resulting in a pyramid scheme in which each generation impoverishes the next. Demand for labour instead should be met by enabling employment for untrained, underemployed and older people.

We believe governments should promote responsible parenthood and that subsidies should be limited to the first two children unless the family is living in poverty.



We support the principal recommendation of the Population Panel convened in the United Kingdom in 1973 — that a senior government official be responsible for addressing population-related issues.



Clearly their policies go way beyond simple population issues, and are highly political.  


BTW – Another of their patrons is our old friend, Paul Ehrlich!! 

  1. May 11, 2016 10:20 pm

    Enemies of Humanity all of them.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 11, 2016 10:51 pm

    Do you suppose we would be allowed to raise our emissions to the per capita level in China?

  3. May 11, 2016 11:43 pm

    Its not original. The reverend Malthus comes to mind.

  4. May 12, 2016 12:07 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Overpopulation alarmists like Attenborough have it the wrong way around. Abundance of realiable carbon based energy, creating wealth, in fact reduces population.
    Negative birth rates in wealthy Scandinavian countries vs overpopulation in energy starved African / Asian nations is evidence of this fact.

    Anthropogenic “climate change”, and the control of carbon dioxide (energy) has deep roots in a radical, yet gravely misguided campaign to reduce the world’s population.

    A misanthropic agenda engineered by the environmental movement in the mid 1970’s, who realised that doing something about “global warming” would play to quite a number of its social agendas

    • Keir Douglas permalink
      May 12, 2016 9:27 am

      Why does energy production have to be C based? What’s your problem with U based power generation?

      • May 12, 2016 10:19 am

        I’m well up for fusion/fission based electricity generation.
        At the moment C based ‘works’. And the public is falsely afraid of fusion/fission.

        As for unreliables, they are merely hastily delivered feel-good solutions to a non-problem

  5. May 12, 2016 12:32 am

    Paul, Attenborough is wrong, of course. But there are real eventual Earth carrying capacity limits for humans. Those must exist, as they do for all species everywhere. These are hardly Maltnusian or Ehrlichian. But they must and do exist. And they can be approximated.
    See my VERY non beach read first ebook Gaia’s Limits for some very laborious calculations including delta arable land, delta best practices yields by crop, delta spread of best practices, and such. Complicated. The devil is in the details. But working it all through (including climate, water, and crops, excluding liquid transportation fuels) does give an answer range. Higher than now. NOT higher than ~2050 UNEP population projections.

    • Ash permalink
      May 13, 2016 12:42 pm

      Attenborough is not wrong at all. You may disagree with him; I certainly agree with him.

      • May 13, 2016 1:08 pm

        Ash – Attenborough is wrong even in his first statement “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people”. Precisely the opposite is true. Completely counter-intuitive, perhaps, but true nonetheless, as is eloquently borne out by the history of humanity. I’ll even disagree with Rud above (not something I do lightly). Rud projects and assumes, but he is wrong to do so. Human ingenuity, multiplied by the number of humans, has easily outpaced every environmental threat we have faced, and most likely will continue to do so indefinitely. Carrying capacity of the earth? Maybe, eventually (though that is not certain), but then there’s the universe

  6. May 12, 2016 5:40 am

    I’d have preferred it if they’d named the ship after a Polar scientist or Explorer rather than a TV celebrity. Although I was strangely drawn to Boatymacboatface.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 12, 2016 7:08 am

      I do as well, they did as well until this nonsense.
      Their current fleet includes RRS James Clark Ross, RRS Ernest Shackleton previous vessels RRS Bransfield, RRS John Biscoe and the Royal Navy chipped in with Endurance and Protector.

      • Billy Liar permalink
        May 12, 2016 8:48 pm

        What was wrong with RRS James Cook since all the RRS’s are named after explorers?

        Cook was first to circumnavigate Antarctica, first to cross the Antarctic circle and discovered the South Sandwich islands.

        John Biscoe was a whaler who explored the Antarctic peninsula for his masters.

        Edward Bransfield was a Warrant Officer in the Royal Navy who was sent in a chartered merchant ship by his then Captain to survey the South Shetland Islands. He eventually sighted and surveyed a segment of Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost point of the Antarctic mainland.

  7. May 12, 2016 6:09 am


    I dissent from the consensus here. Over-population is surely THE problem and the main reason that our childrens’ generation will be poorer than ours and that our grandchildren are likely to be even poorer?

    This (as I consider it) rational analysis (a la Malthus with nobs on) does turn me into a misanthrope. I am a loving dad, grand dad, Christian who loves life, food, “nature” and people.

    It is simply that humanity, 7 billion and counting (less than 4 billion when I was growing up 70 years ago) is caught between a rock and a very hard place, and typically unable to face up to the absolutely irresolvable.

    I put it to you all that it is for this reason, that typically well meaning “humanity” is thrashing around trying to find a less uncomfortable reason for the plain obvious.

    “Anthropogenic Climate Change” for example!

    And trying to solve this highly questionable hypothesis by even dafter “solutions” like 100% renewables in place of the ever greater annual extraction and destruction of finite (yes they are finite) fossil fuels, while avoiding the dilemma that creates for even scarcer metals.

    • David Richardson permalink
      May 12, 2016 7:57 am

      There is not one country in the world that has a higher birth rate today than it did 50 years ago. Sri Lanka has a rate as low as China. One by government decree, the other by raising out of poverty.

      Some estimates suggest that methane hydrate, already close to commercial use in Japan, could have a stock close to a millenia’s worth. Peak oil gets further way, it has been 30 years from now every year for the last 30 years. It is obvious that FF must have a finite limit and replacements must found, but the policy of denying the third world access to cheap, abundant FF means they are denied the ability to get richer and therefore lower their birth rate. In the last century every country that has prospered has lowered its rate dramatically.

      Even the alarmists think 11 billion will be Peak Population in 50 years or so before falling back. Given that we are feeding 7 billion on less land than we did 5 billion, it isn’t all doom unless you have the facist agendas that we hear regulary. Millions in Africa moved off their land because we are conserving it don’t you know.

      IPCC AR5 projections suggest that the world citizens will be much richer than today in 75 years time, not less. The current stupidity of allowing property to become an over inflated asset is responsible for the diminshing standards in the West added to making energy delibrately more expensive. Population has little to do with it.

      On the subject of Sir David Attenborough, I think Ben Pile had it right back in 2013

      • David Benn permalink
        May 12, 2016 1:09 pm

        Such diverse sources as the UN, the Prince of Wales and Matt Ridley seem to agree on peak population of around 9bn – 9.5bn, happening some time between 2050 and 2075. So, to quote the Sun newspaper, “Crisis – what crisis?”

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      May 12, 2016 11:43 am

      Aa the population has grown from 4 billion to 7 billion, people have been fed much, much better than before. The number of people in absolute poverty has shrunk dramatically. There is not a shred of evidence that our children and grandchildren will be poorer than us – my children are immensely richer than i was at their age, not because of cash but because of what that cash buys.

      If you think for example that a VW Gold from 1984 is the same as a 2016 model, even though the price is similar, you need to do some research.

      Add in say digital cameras rather than print and they have ten times the photos I did at zero cost, And so on. Far too much attention is focused on what doesn’t change much – housing, food, clothes – and too little on the vast enriching changes elsewhere.

      • May 12, 2016 4:22 pm

        @ Tim Hammond,

        Thanks Tim,

        You write “Far too much attention is focused on what doesn’t change much – housing, food, clothes – and too little on the vast enriching changes elsewhere.”

        You are right of course! So many aspects of life HAVE improved during our lifetimes. I grew up in 1940s China; most of my (missionary) parents’ “parishioners” were desperately poor. I still feel the visceral embarrassment and shame of seeing coolies fighting for the “privilege” of carrying us tiny tots in sedan chairs up the 4000 ft mountain to our boarding school. It is unarguable that the lives of most such Chinese have vastly improved since then.

        It is also true that the most vocal of us who are usually labelled as “population doomsters” come over as, well, unmitigated doomsters! That is to say, extreme and exagerated pessimists!

        However, thanks to the highly beneficial and indeed, welcome, advances of the technology so lauded by the Cornucopians in this column, (about) half the population of Africa is now less than (about) 15. Accordingly, expect more of the rising tide of humanity seeking better housing, food and clothes in the countries that are very visibly massively better off than theirs.

        Accommodating these WILL add to the pressures widely but wrongly attributed to “climate change”.

        As a direct witness to only a very small part of the huge and intractable problems faced by Africans (only), I could expand on this theme but I simply have not the time.

        David Attenborough is a direct and knowlegeable witness to and skillful reporter of the wonders of Nature. It IS such a pity he has been seduced by the quite persuasve and skillful arguements of the Climatistas. That does not make him wrong on the population time bomb!

        Yes, the ship should have been called Boatymacboatface!


    • May 13, 2016 5:32 pm

      Hugh, it’s easy to do a teeny bit of research on the intertubez. Just entering “western birth rates” returns a treasure trove of information, including a link to the Wiki article on world fertility rates.

      Short version: the west has faced falling growth rates for over a century. In fact France was concerned about its falling birth rate compared to Germany’s increasing rate before WW1. It’s an historical fact that as a country becomes affluent, the birth rate falls.

      Other interesting bit of trivia I didn’t expect. The first page of the mentioned search included four links to concerns about falling birth rates in western countries. Even China has fallen to replacement rate, and India isn’t far behind with a fertility rate of ~2.5 births per woman.

      So while your position does your heart credit, your head is somewhere else. As the saying goes you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

      There are high birth rates, but they’re all in very poor countries. It’s pretty much a direct relationship. The solution is obvious: increase the GDP of those countries.

  8. Richard111 permalink
    May 12, 2016 6:44 am

    I agree with Hugh. My own untutored checks on population came up with a doubling every 40 years or so. Present population has passed 7.4 billion so it looks like we could hit 8 billion by 2020. This implies 16 billion people on this planet by 2060. Very worrying!

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 12, 2016 7:10 am

      The easiest way to achieve population decline is to stop all medical and agricultural research. Whether this is a good thing or not is a moot point.

      • May 12, 2016 7:17 am

        Precisely Ben! Every bone in my body says we must continue to improve the lot of mankind, especially those members of it who are near and ear to me.

        Like I said, we “humantiarian population bomb panikers” are caught between a rock and and ever hardening hard place.

        It is deeply uncomfortable!

    • AlecM permalink
      May 12, 2016 8:41 am

      The way to reduce population growth is to have abundant power and pensions. With improved living standards and ld age security comes lower family size. As it is, expected population limit is 11 billion, easily sustainable.

      Killing off 2/3rds of the UK population, as these evil scum want to do by power starvation in the new Little Ice Age, won’t do any good except enrich the windmill owners.

      They want to kill off half USA’s population. Watch out for the Bundy fight now the women are involved – it’s the start of the attempt to drive the US population into the cities to die.

      • May 12, 2016 8:48 am

        @AlecM, ummm, and who precisely is the “evil scum”?…and have you any evidence for the existence of such hideous conspiracies? 😉

      • AlecM permalink
        May 13, 2016 10:18 am

        In 2001, one of the W Midlands’ businessmen who financed Brown (and later Balls) to power in return for PFI and renewables’ subsidies, boasted to me how rich he would become from his renewables’ company, which became one of the biggest UK based such organisations.

        The man died 4 years ago. He was part of our Mafia. The people presently in control represent a different branch of our Mafia, essentially renewables being a branch of the property industry.

        Oxburgh, a member of the CCC, allegedly fronts a European branch, hence was chosen to head up the ClimateGate enquiry.

  9. May 12, 2016 7:18 am

    dear, of course, not “ear”! 😉

  10. May 12, 2016 7:22 am

    Julian Simon beat Paul Ehrlich & his protege John Holdren in a bet on the future prices of scarce commodities, in 1990. Bet was set in 1980, & Simon let Holdren, Ehrlich & another doomster choose copper, chrome, nickel, tin & tungsten & the 10 year bet period.

    All prices were lower 10 years on & the doomsters had to pay out. This proves the historical trend graphs which show prices dropping, thus commodities becoming less scarce over time.
    Counterintuitive, yes, but true.

    Simon’s thesis is that no doomster factors in human ingenuity & effort: man will always find a solution when under pressure, sans interference.

    Thus he postulates that population pressures are a good thing: man is forced to invent new solutions. Ehrlich was forecasting massive famines for India in the 70s, along came Norman Borlaug with his dwarf wheat, & Mexico & India become food exporters.
    Simon produced graphs showing that human prosperity has risen historically in direct correlation with population numbers. Economies of scale + accumulation of knowledge + etc…

    Book: The Ultimate Resource 2, Julian L. Simon.
    Well worth a read.

    John Doran.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 12, 2016 11:30 pm

      Ehrlich was forecasting massive famine in the USA in the 1960’s, certainly by 1965. He estimated by 1974, along with oil running out by 1975. Judge his predictions by his previous ‘accuracy’.

  11. Bitter& Twisted permalink
    May 12, 2016 7:45 am

    Paul Ehrlich, that fountain of wisdom and accurate prediction.

  12. Ian Wilson permalink
    May 12, 2016 9:05 am

    Climate change looks like a non-problem but there is good reason to be concerned about population growth.
    Our countryside is being lost at an alarming rate under the relentless tide of housing to satisfy population growth, and with it goes much of the wildlife too. And as demand exceeds supply that is driving house prices out of reach of young people.
    It is regrettable that any mention of such concerns provokes vitriolic comments that we want Chinese-style coercion or Nazi type breeding engineering. We don’t, we would like people to realise that generations to come will have a better quality of life if there is still some countryside to enjoy.
    Population Matters made a serious mistake when they branched into climate campaigning and I resigned as a result.

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      May 12, 2016 12:00 pm

      Well this is the BBC but it offers some sense perhaps:

      Almost 98% of England is “natural”. Oh the horror,

    • May 13, 2016 1:27 pm

      Ian – I don’t think your pointing to the housebuilding boom (It needs to be much more of a boom than it is) as a reason for loss of our countryside is really valid. Even housing and roads together constitute a minuscule proportion of the land surface in UK. I’m not even sure that countryside IS now being lost (there are some contradictory stats). The problem, if there is one, is with agricultural land, which cannot be advanced for housing without extraordinary legal and planning convolutions, and so the houses which are built have to be shoehorned into current housing areas, and so called ‘brownfield sites’ which ironically enough are often places of natural history interest, and certainly far more valuable to the natural environment than a farmer’s field. I vote we relax the building veto on agricultural land. Even turning over 1% of arable and livestock areas would solve the housing crisis for generations, without anyone really noticing it had happened. Of course, some farmers would become very rich, whereas their equally deserving neighbours would get nowt, but there is no easy way around that.

  13. Broadlands permalink
    May 12, 2016 11:45 am

    May I suggest that you read a very short article entitled “Carbon Dioxide and People” published in 1983. The authors are Norman Newell (a paleontologist) and Leslie Marcus (a statistician). They demonstrate that the correlation between atmospheric CO2 and global population is almost perfect… 0.9985. An update of that has changed little although the rate of increase has slowed. The rate of global population growth peaked in 1987.

    I agree with Mr. Sharman. And, even if population stopped in its tracks the impact of our urban heat would continue using “alternative” energy. That cannot be avoided, CO2 or not.

  14. dennisambler permalink
    May 12, 2016 2:02 pm

    Check out Chiefio’s well reasoned arguments from 2009

  15. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 12, 2016 3:58 pm

    Do not obsess over the total number of people in year X. That is an unknown.
    However, before X is known there are very interesting trends regarding demographics that will bring serious stress to nations of the world. Have a go at this:
    10 major findings regarding the demographic future

    These include ageing, shifts, and declines.


  16. May 12, 2016 4:26 pm

    @John Hultquist

    Thanks! Ouchhhh!

    Yes, Indeed!

  17. 3x2 permalink
    May 12, 2016 6:32 pm

    […] and [mankind] depletes natural resources.

    Space exploration is the only activity that has ‘used’ resources. That’s all that has ever left Earth. Every other eg. Aluminum atom is still here waiting to be re-used. Depletion is yet another eco-factoid.

    And I’m sure this 90 year old example of not living too long and impacting the planet unnecessarily will be ashamed of himself by now.

    No doubt he’ll be sacrificing his half dozen grandchildren to the cause too?

    Thought not. Another £ucking hypocritical ‘lovie’ that believes that ‘others’ should make ‘the ultimate scarifice’.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      May 12, 2016 7:18 pm

      Not only that but space exploration could open up the biggest bonanza of every kind of material the occupants of Earth could possibly need.
      So it wouldn’t be wasted.

    • May 14, 2016 2:07 pm

      @3X2, ummm…and that dratted, 2nd Law of Thermodynamics says…;) ?

  18. May 13, 2016 3:09 pm

    Careful about population growth projections
    Cos there was quite a good BBC radio prog in 2012 saying that the growth was not downturning as projected

    “We’ve actually got population projections wrong consistently over the last 50 years,” says Professor Falkingham, “and this is partly because we’ve underestimated the improvements in mortality, particularly older age mortality, but also we’ve not been very good at spotting the trends in fertility.”

    But forecasting population will always be a highly uncertain science

    Then in 2013 The BBC did an item about one guy who thinks growth is overestimated
    Howveer it ends by pointing out the UN pojections have huge huge margins of error :’ Did we say 6.6billion ..oh well in could be 16billion’ etc

  19. May 13, 2016 3:11 pm

    I’m on the anti population side
    The more people you have the more trees you have to chop down to supply them..the less nature ..especially cos we live longer.

    So to me religion and nationalism are evil.

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