Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On Half Earth

The headline says, Scientists call for a Paris-style agreement to save life on Earth. Monbiot says this often, and E.O. Wilson, and so many others. We have to let parts of the world rewild, and stop covering every inch of the planet with concrete and asphalt and golf courses:
"In 2016, E.O. Wilson — arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist — published a book called Half Earth where he proposed that to save life on Earth (and ourselves) we must set aside around half the planet in various types of reserves. . . . In less technical parlance, this is a ringing call for a massive, global agreement that would look at drastically increasing the amount of the world covered by parks — in some cases up to the Half Earth goal — and indigenous protected areas. Indigenous people are now widely recognized as some of the best defenders of nature after decades of being sidelined. . . . 
Such an agreement would likely fall under the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity, first established in 1992, as an international treaty. . . . The CBD has had a number of disadvantages. For one, much like the Paris Agreement, it’s non-binding and largely voluntary. This has been a necessary concession in order to get so many nations sign on — just like with Paris — but it also means there’s no legal way to enforce action. Just international peer pressure. For another it’s lacking a major signatory. Guess who? Yes, of course, the United States. . . . Finally, the CBD has not been able to garner the same kind of media attention and interest as the various climate change declarations. For some reason, an agreement about the fate of millions of species on Earth just hasn’t grabbed our attention-deficit media. 
But these drawbacks need not ensure that the CBD be toothless or ineffectual. And if there’s a time for it to prove its mettle, it’s now. . . . "It is certainly a major challenge, as has been the case with the Paris Climate Accord. But we need to start somewhere. If all this sounds like utopian fiction, Dinerstein pointed to the fact that Chinese scientists have already published a paper on how they could hit 50 percent protected land in one of the most populous countries on Earth."

It's possible.


Northern PoV said...

Hey, thanks for the tip on the E.O. Wilson book.

I think his "Social Conquest of the Earth" should be read by all politicians

Setting aspirational goals is better than complete denial. A small step.

Marie Snyder said...

I haven't actually read this one yet - just heard about it from the article - but I will!

The Mound of Sound said...

All of these solutions are premised on a massive transformation of our global civilization. Mankind would have to be brought back into harmony with nature, our environment, Spaceship Earth. The developed world would have to sacrifice, cut way back, that the Third World might hope to survive. How do we build that kind of goodwill? Sharing and caring. If we can't find the consensus to save our own species, what are the odds we will be willing to sacrifice to save the rest of nature? I have to pose these issues in the form of questions to blunt my pessimism/cynicism.

Like a 12-step programme, the first step is admitting we have a problem. In a nutshell we've grown humankind far beyond the ecological capacity of our finite planet. These existential threats we're facing are all rooted in mankind's inability to organize itself to harmonize with nature. There is step 2, acknowledging that we have to get smaller, much smaller to reduce our numbers, our consumption and our emissions/pollution/contamination to levels that might give us and all other life a decent chance of survival.

You read my rant today about political retardation. How do we get our political and commercial leaders to abandon the quest for perpetual, exponential growth? You don't stand much chance of reducing ecological impacts if you cannot shake this addiction to growth. You must stop repeating conduct that is inherently nihilistic.

I think setting aside half of the world, a representatively decent half, is essential. That, however, would require that mankind slim down so that it can live in the remaining half.