Half the Earth

A Battle for Half

USDI Photo

USDI Photo

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

A barren Great Basin landscape where native vegetation was removed by fire and replaced by Cheatgrass.

A barren Great Basin landscape where fire and the invader Bromus tectorum have replaced 100 million acres of native vegetation.

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.


2 thoughts on “Half the Earth

  1. Reblogged this on Pippakin Talks Cats, Dogs, Teeth and Claws and commented:

    I looked up a few of the numbers involved. It’s no surprise to see that we have a tough battle ahead:

    If the biggest most destructive predators on earth keep reproducing at the rate they are half of the planet is not enough for the humans. It was probably not enough before the author finished writing his article.
    Which is not to say he isn’t right I think he is but I think the only thing that can save us is a major cull of the main predators. We are long overdue a major epidemic.


  2. Resistance to antibiotics is growing, and our drug industry focuses much of its effort on pseudo improvements of popular medications, Nevertheless, I can’t see an epidemic being effective population control for our species. Viruses mutate and lose their focus too soon, and, in the past, we have replaced our losses within a few generations. Of course, an effective virus might come along.
    Can we get our political, religious, and social leadership to attack the problem? Everyone needs to understand the benefits that would come from dropping our birth rate below the replacement level. It would be a slow cure, but it would last. The Center for Biological Diversity is trying to attack the problem, but progress is slow (more ideas here: http://wp.me/p26kDO-6t2).

    Liked by 2 people


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