Except he doesn’t. He comes up with an answer alright – 15 billion if we all live like the average Indian, 2.5 billion if we all live like we do in the UK, and 1.5 billion if we all live like fat, horrible Americans. It’s all derived entirely from standard ecological footprint stuff.
Attenborough tells us that:
Malthus’s principle remains true. The productive capacity of the Earth has physical limits. And those limits will ultimately determine how many human beings it can support.
We were looking forward to hearing a good argument for why that might be. It’s Sir David Attenborough, after all. There wasn’t one. Just lots of footage of people without access to enough food, water etc. No historical or political context. Just lots of simplistic environmental determinism. Apparently even the Rwandan civil war/genocide/whatever you want to call it was the result of too many people. Nice. And of course…
But the picture may be even worse than this. These figures are based on rates of consumption that many think are already unsustainable.
Happily, for anyone wanting arguments for why Malthus, Attenborough and sustainability are wrong, here are some we prepared earlier: