A Battle for Half
A recent article in Smithsonian Magazine reported that Edward O. Wilson has begun to support the idea that we should set aside 50% of the Earth for wildlife. Wilson has calculated that this would be enough to stop the developing mass extinction. I looked up a few of the numbers involved. It’s no surprise to see that we have a tough battle ahead:
- Earth Ocean Area: 361,132,000 km² (139,397,000 mi²)
- Earth Land Area: 148,940,000 km² (57,491,000 square miles)
Percent of protected areas over 10 km² (World Bank, 2012):
- Total protected land area: 14.3%
- US protected land area: 14%
- UK protected land area: 28%
- World protected territorial marine area: 10%*
- US protected territorial marine area: 2%
- UK protected territorial marine area: 18%
*Most of the ocean area is outside territorial boundaries.
Is Half Enough
Apart from the painful inequity of one species offering to give half the world to all the millions of others, I have to question that half will even be enough. Boundaries will not stop human impacts such as greenhouse gases and pesticides. And we have to acknowledge that much of the Earth is already degraded. Protecting the wild part of Earth will need more than dividing up the land. We also have to control the polluters and begin reversing the damage.