Introduction — Sept 18, 2013
Described as a “national treasure” for his TV wildlife programs, Sir David Attenborough reveals in the interview below that he’s also something of a misanthrope.
Last year Attenborough was quoted as describing humanity as “a plague on Earth“. It’s an attitude toward population growth and his fellow man that he shares with the Duke of Edinburgh, also a wildlife enthusiast.
The President Emeritus of World Wildlife Fund, wrote in his Foreword to If I Were an Animal; United Kingdom, Robin Clark Ltd., 1986.
“I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist…. I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.” (Source)
Two years later the Duke was quoted by Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA), as saying:
“In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.” (Source)
So both men seem to have more in common than an enthusiasm for wildlife. A shared misanthropy is also evident.
Now I’m not saying that overpopulation isn’t a problem, it is. But their attitude toward it and what they see as a solution reveals a really profound lack of spiritual faith.
It’s not just that both men seem to have no trust in the ultimate benevolence of higher powers. Or that they seem to believe that the challenges and trials we face in this world have no purpose, as they do.
It’s just that both men strike me as being pantheists, if not reincarnated at least at heart. For those who don’t know, Pan is the horned, cloven-footed god of nature revered by the ancient Greeks.
Now pantheism may have a point in that the workings of the divine are integral to the natural world. But life and the workings of the divine don’t begin and end in the material world, as both these men seem to think.
To see the world in such limited terms reveals a profoundly restricted spiritual vision.
The problems we confront in this world are but a test, an exercise to ready us for what we will find in the next
So while overpopulation may seem insurmountable, it is but a test: what choice do we make when confronted with a problem that threatens to overwhelm us?
It seems that both Sir David Attenborough and the Duke of Edinburgh have made their choice. Rich, powerful and influential, they seem to have made the right choice in this world. But where will they find themselves in the next?
Sir David Attenborough: If we do not control population, the natural world will
Hannah Furness — Daily Telegraph Sept 18, 2013
Sir David, who is soon to present a programme on human beings, said population control was a “huge area of concern”, adding the world was “heading for disaster unless we do something”.
He warned if humans do not act soon, the “natural world will do something”, as he argues famine in Ethiopia is about “too many people for too little piece of land”.
He suggested humans are “blinding ourselves” to the problem, claiming: “We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”
In an interview with the Telegraph, ahead of new programme David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals, he admitted the issues had “huge sensitivities” but insisted it was important to “just keep on about it”.
When asked about comments he made on population control earlier this year, when he said human beings were a “plague on the Earth, Sir David agreed they could be considered “blindingly obvious” but claimed nobody else had made the point publicly.
“Just keep on about it. Just keep on about it,” he said, when asked about the next step to solving the problem. “You know and I know that there are huge, huge sensitivities involved in this.
“To start with, it is the individual’s great privilege to have children. And who am I to say that you shan’t have children? That’s one thing.
“Then the next thing is that there’s a religious one, in the sense that the Catholic Church doesn’t accept this. That you should control the population.
“So that’s another huge area of concerns. And the last sensitivity – and the most tricky of all – is the fact, when you talk about world population, the areas we’re talking about are Africa and Asia, you know.”
He agreed it could be construed as just being about “poor people”, adding: “And to have a European telling Africans that they shan’t have children is not the way to go around things.”
When asked how to get around the sensitive issues to solve the problem, he said: “We keep on talking about the problem without putting names on it in that sense. And getting it on the agenda of people.
“Because – you obviously can see it just as I can – you know, that we are heading for disaster unless we do something.
“And if we don’t do something, the natural world will do something. And you say that, but of course they’ve been doing it for a long time, the natural world.
“They’ve been having… what are all these famines in Ethiopia, what are they about? They’re about too many people for too little piece of land. That’s what it’s about.
“And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”