Prize-winning author warns humans could be headed for extinction

MARGARET Atwood, the novelist, has warned that the planet is at a "crisis moment" and the human race could be headed towards extinction.

The prize-winning author of The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid's Tale, who is president of the Rare Birds Club of BirdLife International, sent out the warning during an RSPB Scotland fundraising dinner in Edinburgh.

The Canadian said although the "cockroaches will always be fine", humans may not. She urged everyone to play their part in tackling climate change.

The fundraising dinner was held at the Balmoral Hotel, where Atwood was guest of honour, along with her ornithologist husband, Graeme Gibson.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Atwood said she thinks the crisis involves climate change, deforestation, overfishing, declines in bird populations and production of energy.

The 68-year-old, who lived in Edinburgh for a year in 1978, backed The Scotsman's Save Our Seas campaign, saying the oceans are crucial for many reasons, from providing food to sustaining jobs.

"I have so many people saying to me: 'Is there hope?'" Atwood told the audience.

"What people are really looking for is hope. If people knew what to do they would do it. We need the science to tell us what to do.

"We need the will and the heart to enable us to do it.

"The trouble with politicians is their terms are very short. Eighty per cent of their energy goes into staying elected."

She said that, as a result, charities like RSPB are crucial.

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