Sir David Attenborough is wrong to be concerned about a rise in the global population, Professor Robert Winston has said
12:01AM BST 14 Oct 2013
Sir David Attenborough is wrong to worry about global population increase, Professor Robert Winston has said, as he claims those who fear IVF will exacerbate the problem are “a bit ignorant”.
Prof Winston, a member of the House of Lords and pioneering researcher in the field of fertility, said those who believed bringing more children into an “over-burgeoning population” were simply “not thinking”.
Instead, he argued, the number of IVF babies – around five million so far – is statistically insignificant, with technological developments more likely to actually lead to a decrease in population.
Sir David Attenborough has commented extensively on the problems of population growth on the natural world, previously saying human beings were a “plague on Earth”.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday (Sun), Prof Winston said scare-mongering reports about IVF have led to some people believing “we’re in a new world that has gone sickeningly wrong”.
Instead, he argued, they should celebrate the new life that makes up only a “trivial percentage” of the global population.
Speaking of fears over population growth, told an audience: “Many of my friends like David Attenborough, who I respect as a most intelligent man, have probably got this wrong,
“Because again and again where we see technology implemented to get clean water, where you have stable government, where you have education of women, where you actually have a decent infrastructure across society, the problem is not rising population but actually falling population, as it is in most of Western Europe.”
Prof Winston, who appeared at the festival to publicise the new book Science Year by Year, added those who opposed IVF over fears of a rising population were “a bit ignorant”.
He added: “”What we should in fact be doing is celebration gone fact that this new technology has given birth to around five million lives worldwide that wouldn’t have existed.
“Now of course, what often happens with people who are a bit ignorant or not thinking, they say ‘we’ve got an over-burgeoning population in the world, why create more children?’
“Well actually five million against five or six billion or even nine billion is such a trivial percentage that its really quite irrelevant.
“One of the aspects of this is that we know technology as done a fantastically important thing in preventing expanding populations.
“It’s very probable that we will see a decrease in population.”
Speaking earlier this year, Sir David Attenborough told the Radio Times: “We are a plague on the Earth. 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.”