May 11, 2021

Chris Packham: Put wildlife before humans – and stop killing childhood

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Chris packhamBy Sherna Noah From Western Daily Press

Human beings need to stop prioritising themselves over the environment and help wildlife instead of “chasing cures for cancer”, Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has said.

The outspoken naturalist, 53, also criticised Sir Richard Branson’s “grotesquely misinformed” project to put lemurs on a Caribbean island, and said Christianity “doesn’t help” when it comes to getting people to change their attitude and think about the planet.

He told the Radio Times that risk aversion was “killing childhood”, meaning children who were free to explore nature on their own were now an “extinct” species. The wildlife expert called on wealthy philanthropists to stop prioritising human health and to fund environmental causes instead. He told the magazine economic growth was “a recipe for disaster” and blasted “ill-informed” politicians.

“We’ve got to get to a state where we think about all life and not just human life,” he said. “Christianity doesn’t help: we’re made in God’s image so everything is there to be exploited by us. It doesn’t help people’s attitudes.”

But he said that he was “optimistic” about the future, adding: “Our understanding of what we need to do to preserve species is increasing.

“The reason why it’s failing at the moment is that politicians – local, national, global – don’t understand the need to look after our planet.

“Biological resources are worth trillions of dollars a year, when you think about the fish taken out of the sea, the forests cut down for wood, the oil pumped out of the ground. So, at a certain point the ecologists will have an equal say to the economists.

“If there’s one mantra that we need to break in the next 10 years it’s that economic growth is a good thing. It isn’t. It’s a recipe for global disaster.” He added: “What we need in the next ten years – as a stop-gap – is corporate funding and the benevolence of philanthropists. There are a lot of wealthy people in the UK who, in the past, would give to things such as medicine and education, but because of the pressure on the environment they’re now thinking of using their excess wealth to protect wildlife.

“We need to stop chasing cures for cancer and things like that and start realising that the health of the planet goes beyond the health of human beings.”

One billionaire entrepreneur, Virgin boss Sir Richard, has spoken of his plans to create a colony of lemurs, disappearing from its native African habitat, on an undeveloped island he owns in the Caribbean, but Packham criticised the tycoon’s plans.

He told the magazine: “I’ve got nothing whatsoever against Richard Branson, but that is grotesquely misinformed.

“These are animals that should be on Madagascar; they don’t want to be in the Caribbean. Richard’s money could be far better spent.

“We just need to tap into these people and say, ‘Come on, you’ve got the funds – if you want to make a difference you really can, so help us out.”‘

Packham also told the magazine risk aversion was destroying childhood. This month, TV adventurer Bear Grylls complained parents were doing their children a “disservice” by not exposing them to danger.

Packham said: “The children out in the woods, out in the fields, enjoying nature on their own – they’re extinct.

“I walk my dogs twice a day when I’m at home in the New Forest… when I was a kid there would be other kids out in the woods, making camps, starting fires, catching grass snakes – and they’re not there any more.”

He added: “Risk aversion is killing childhood. I can’t tell you how many times I fell out of a tree when I was a kid. I once fell from 40ft onto a barbed-wire fence covered in brambles. I’m still here.”

But Packham said he was still optimistic, adding: “Marsh harriers, red kites, hobbies, peregrine falcons: the numbers of all these birds have increased because we’ve changed our behaviour.

“When I was a kid, people used to say, ‘if you destroy downland or heathland it’s gone for ever’, but that isn’t true – we can rebuild these habitats very quickly.”

For more on this story go to: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/nature-humans-warns-Packham/story-21113443-detail/story.html#ixzz32GEGoXrN

 

 

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