The “Blue Marble” – the first photograph ever taken of the whole earth and the only one ever snapped by a human being.
The great evolutionary biologist EO Wilson has a dream – a dream that one day, half of our planet will be set aside as permanently protected areas for the other ten million species, many of which are currently struggling for survival.
Wilson is known as the father of biodiversity and has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and accolades, including two Pulitzer Prizes. His now widely accepted Theory of Island Biogeography explains why national parks inevitably lose species over time – they’re not large enough to support an ecosystem.
Wilson is a young 85, positively brilliant and fiercely driven by his love for the natural world and all its life forms. He recently calculated that the only way to avoid a mass extinction is to protect half of earth’s land and waters through a system of connected parks and wildlife corridors.
Currently, we’re protecting approximately 15% of our land and 3% of our waters. Moving those numbers up to 50% is a Herculean task, but as Wilson has said “battles are where the fun is.”
This bold plan requires a leap in how humans relate to our planet. It’s a matter of ethics – we must stop evaluating our planet as a resource for humans to use and enjoy, and instead see it as the complex ecosystem that is, of which we are just one species.
Excitingly, this unapologetically audacious plan has been gaining traction with all the right people including M.C. Davis, who has recently purchased enough land to bring the bears back to the Florida panhandle, and Ted Turner, who is now using his two million acres of land to protect endangered species.
“We need to operate at enormous scales that make sense to nature but that transcend anything people have assembled.” – Ted Turner
Over 5K Bison call Flying D Ranch home. The American Bison population once numbered 3M but after 15 years of slaughter in the 19th century, bottomed out at 325.
Wilson says this exciting trend is part of the final stage of conservation, where private landowners connect the parks and wilderness areas created by the government through conservation easements, which provide funding to those willing to sell the rights to development on their property in perpetuity.
If Wilson is right, as he has been on so many things, Half Earth may seem impossible – but it is necessary. So on this Earth Day, let’s challenge ourselves to think in massive scale. How can we reach 50% protected land and water?
Dr. EO Wilson challenges us to think bigger, because “battles are where the fun is.” Photo via Newsweek
About the author: Alyssa is the founder and CEO of Hipcamp. She has a degree from UCLA in Digital Democracy and her deepest passion is helping shape how the internet impacts our humanity and our planet.
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