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How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth?

Airs Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Sir David Attenborough, host of "How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth?"

In this fascinating program, esteemed naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough takes a look at the problems we face as a continuously growing species. On a journey from Mexico to Spain, China to Rwanda, ecologists, demographers, farmers, engineers and family planning clinicians report on the enormous challenges of dealing with humans in ever increasing numbers.

From the drought-stricken Colorado River which is struggling to irrigate the farms upon which millions of Americans rely, to Mexico City, trying to cope with water rationing, the program reveals how scarce resources are affecting people all over the planet. But this future is not inevitable.

Horizon discovers that while countries as diverse as Canada, Turkey and Russia negotiate rights to sell freshwater to the world’s ever-expanding dry-lands, the richest countries in the Middle East are piloting solar desalination plants to provide freshwater and irrigate farms in the desert.

And improvements in social policy and global co-operation also offer hope. Research has shown that where women are emancipated and literate and where family planning is freely available, birth rates decrease.

But should population control be the duty of each one of us? David Attenborough asks whether we should all commit to smaller families for the sake of all humanity and the survival of planet Earth.

This program is part of the HORIZON 2009/10 series from the BBC.

Video

Video Excerpt: How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth?

Above: The world's population is growing and could exceed 9 billion within the next four decades. In this fascinating program, esteemed naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough takes a look at the problems we face as a continuously growing species.

Video

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?: Water