7.7 The Half-Earth Solution


If it’s true that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is unstoppable and our major coastal cities drown, humans can rebuild cities inland. If it’s true that the scorching of the American Southwest will be irreversible, humans can move out of Nevada into Utah. If it’s true that it is going to be impossible to grow food in Syria, humans can migrate from Syria into Europe.

We humans have the distinct ability to adapt ourselves quickly to any environment on Earth. Other species don’t. They don’t wear clothes, they don’t have air-conditioners, they don’t have heaters and when they choose to move to a suitable habitat, they encounter man-made obstacles such as roads and cities that impede them. As a result, many wild animals have already gone extinct. But there is still much that we can do to restore the integrity of ecosystems and help Life flourish on this planet.

A few years ago, Prof. E. O. Wilson enunciated “Wilson’s law”[96]:

“If we save the living environment, the biodiversity that we have left today, we will also automatically save the physical environment. If we only save the physical environment, then we will ultimately lose both.”

That law has been emblazoned on our Climate Healers web site ever since. From that law, we derived our core guiding principle:

Compassion for all Creation is Infinitely Sustainable!

Prof. E. O. Wilson just published his 32nd book entitled, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life[97], which makes an eloquent case for half the Earth to be set aside as a permanent preserve for the benefit of the 20-100 million other species on the planet so that they have a chance to recover from the depredations of our Caterpillar phase. Prof. E. O. Wilson has asked that this Half-Earth preserve should be in the form of contiguous North-South corridors so that species can migrate freely in response to changing climactic conditions. Human passages through these corridors should be designed with respect for the well being of wildlife. Just think of highway crossings on pillars within these wildlife corridors, instead of our current practice, expecting wild animals to cross our highways at their peril.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Prof. E. O. Wilson sounded a note of optimism[98]:

“Large parts of Nature are still intact — the Amazon region, the Congo Basin, New Guinea. There are also patches of the industrialized world where Nature could be restored and strung together to create corridors for wildlife. In the oceans, we need to stop fishing in the open sea and let life there recover. If we halted those fisheries, marine life would increase rapidly. The oceans are part of that 50 percent.

Now, this proposal does not mean moving anybody out. It means creating something equivalent to the U.N.’s World Heritage sites that could be regarded as the priceless assets of humanity. That’s why I’ve made so bold a step as to offer this maxim: Do no further harm to the rest of life. If we can agree on that, everything else will follow. It’s actually going to be a lot easier than people think.”  

In a world that is rapidly transitioning to veganism, this bold Half-Earth proposal is feasible to implement. In that vegan world, most of the 45% of the land area of the Earth that is currently being used for Animal Agriculture will be freed for “re-wilding” [99]. In a world where equality is structurally guaranteed, surely there would be plenty of volunteers to help shepherd this re-wilding! Just imagine 60 million SAI sanctuaries spread throughout the Earth and you will have a vision of the Eden that Prof. E. O. Wilson envisions. Such an Eden can and must be regenerated!

Prof. E. O. Wilson estimates that if the Half-Earth solution is implemented, then we can preserve 85% of the species extant today and limit the long-term extinction to about 15%. That would make this Sixth Great Mass Extinction event[100] to be the least damaging compared to the other five Great Mass Extinction events in the Earth’s history.

[96] Wilson’s law was first reported on the New York Times Dot Earth blog: http://nyti.ms/1OFzxiv

[97] E. O. Wilson, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, Liveright, March 2016, ISBN-13: 978-1631490828. http://amzn.to/1Rfrzwb

[98] http://nyti.ms/1LTxntX

[99] Monbiot promotes re-wilding here: http://bit.ly/1IcyF70

[100] Kolbert, Elizabeth, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,  Henry Holt & Co, 2014, ISBN-13: 978-0805092998, http://amzn.to/1sw6xVq