RIO DE JANEIRO — CNN founder and United Nations Foundation boss Ted Turner, speaking ahead of the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, called for a global ban on plastic and new UN contraception and education programs to reduce the human population. He also called himself the “king” of a lot of “things” and proposed — presumably joking — a ban on human breathing.
During a series of panel discussions and talks under the banner of “Women Leading the Way,” Turner, a highly divisive billionaire, discussed the need to “save everything": lizards, snakes, frogs, flowers, and more. And after telling the audience about his massive land buys to preserve wildlife, he offered a series of controversial suggestions that he claimed would help save the earth from the alleged ravages inflicted upon it by humanity.
“We could ban breathing,” Turner proposed, smiling. “We could ban human breathing, and that would really take care of the problem.” He held his breath as his Portuguese translator, looking surprised, exclaimed in English: “I hope you’re joking.” Turner laughed it off. But on other issues, he was certainly not kidding.
Plastics, he said, are at the top of his priority list to save the world. “I think what we should do about plastics is ban them,” Turner explained, citing an African president who prohibited plastic bags in the country and his alleged success in improving the environment there. “Rwanda is now as clean as Switzerland,” he claimed. The crowd laughed again.
“On top of that, that worked out so well that he passed another law — got another law passed — that the third Saturday of every month, for two hours, everybody in the country would go out in the village and pick up trash,” Turner noted approvingly, suggesting involuntary government-mandated servitude without a trace of irony in his voice. “I pick up trash myself — I’m a trash picker upper.”
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Photo: UN Foundation Founder and Chairman Ted Turner, left, poses with Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg, second left, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, second right, and UN Foundation President Sen. Timothy E. Wirth, right, at the Global Leadership Awards dinner hosted by the UN Foundation and United Nations Association-USA, on Nov. 8, 2011, in New York: AP Images