Edward O. Wilson’s Proposal to Save the Biosphere

41ZJkCloHjL._SX327_BO1 204 203 200_Mark Jarman at The Hudson Review:

The great and essential biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson has published his latest warning about life on earth. Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life[1] completes a trilogy that includes The Social Conquest of Earth (2012) and The Meaning of Human Existence (2014). Of this trilogy Wilson writes, “[it] describes how our species became the architects and rulers of the Anthropocene epoch, bringing consequences that will affect all of life, both ours and that of the natural world, far into the geological future.” It may be hard to conceive of the “geological future,” when the geological past itself stretches back four billion years, but the new term Anthropocene identifies our current age as one in which humanity has affected not only global biology but geology as well.Half-Earth recounts what we ourselves, i.e., humanity, are doing to our very realm of living. It unfolds precisely and specifically with detailed examples of just how human activity has interrupted the course of evolution on the planet. Human enterprise, as Wilson describes it, looks like a deliberate, ongoing, and increasingly rapid Extinction Level Event. He has a proposal to avert catastrophe by setting aside half the planet as wild land for non-human nature. It is a pretty gloomy prospect to imagine the global cooperation needed for this proposal, but Wilson himself seems optimistic. After all, he believes, to do otherwise will inevitably result in our own annihilation, along with the flora and fauna we are leading and have led to extinction. And when he reminds us that what is wild and non-human includes the human body itself, a symbiotic zoo of microorganisms, most of them bacteria, one can understand the premise of his argument. What he calls the biosphere—everything on the planet that is living and makes life possible—cannot exist without the existence of wild nature, and humanity, vitally connected to that sphere, cannot exist, at least not as we now conceive ourselves to be. Travel to another planet is not the answer. Technological innovation is not the answer. The answer is simple, elegant, proactive and hopeful, and, Wilson reveals, already underway in many parts of the globe.

more here.