Having abandoned his lifelong quest to win friends and influence people. 86-year-old David Attenborough told the The Independent (UK) that humans are a plague on the Earth.
The 86-year-old broadcaster said the negative effects of climate change and population growth would be seen in the next 50 years.
He told the Radio Times: "It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so.
"It's not just climate change. It's sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde.
"Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.
"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 co-ordinated view about the planet, it's going to get worse and worse."
Naturally, Attenborough's judgment will generally be seen as "subjective" and very harsh, not to mention unpopular and anger-provoking.
But are we humans a plague on the Earth?
Well, sure we are! You betcha! And if you are familiar with the history of the Earth, with both the geological and paleontological records, you will know that no plague like this one has ever occurred before in those 4.56 billion years.
And when we say plague—think of locusts—we mean that humans have overrun and ravaged the Earth, not only in sheer numbers, but also in the rampant consumption of those among us who are relatively well off. That deplorable trend continues, as Attenborough notes.
But is this overrunning and ravaging a natural phenomenon? Of course it is. (Locusts, again.) Humans are extraordinary animals, but animals nonetheless. In fact, they are the only animals we know of in Earth's history or elsewhere in the Universe who are self-aware enough to reach the remarkable conclusion that their collective actions constitute a plague on their home planet.
And as if to reinforce the inconvenient truth that we humans are an entirely natural (and random) product of evolution, only a very few humans are sufficiently self-aware to conclude that Homo sapiens is a plague on the Earth! And now, David Attenborough, at the ripe old age of 86, is among those extraordinary members of our species.
The humans who are not self-aware enough to come to this conclusion, which is obvious to those who have the wherewithal (consciousness) to reach it, are merely self-absorbed and unreflective. In short, they are doing what they are doing, as animals typically do. And what they are doing, when their actions are taken altogether, when these actions are looked upon collectively, is overrunning and ravaging the Earth.
You might look at my recent post The Limits Of Free Will In Human Action if you have not read it.
The question of whether the actions of Homo sapiens constitute "natural" (instinctual) behaviors is an important one, for humans have forgotten that they are part of the natural world which spawned them, and upon which they still depend, despite their much-celebrated technological cleverness in changing the natural environment to suit their own needs. Some self-aware humans have dubbed this new epoch the Anthropocene (like the Holocene, the Pleistocene, and so on).
And here is what we know about the Anthropocene, as Attenborough implies—when viewed in the context of geological time, it will be very, very brief.
Bonus Video — from Steve Cutts