Reviews from the Book

“If humankind finds a way to live in peace together, and in harmony with nature, Wilson will have played a unique role in that deliverance.”

Jeffrey Sachs

“Wilson speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all.”

Oliver Sacks

“Edward O. Wilson possesses a rare, almost unique, combination of immense scientific knowledge and deep humane intelligence.”

Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve

E.O. Wilson talks with PBS NewsHour about his new book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

Published on Apr 28, 2016

Biologist and Pulitzer winner E.O. Wilson has spent his life studying animals and fighting for their conservation. As species go extinct at 1,000 times the normal rate thanks to human interference, Wilson’s new book “Half Earth” holds a bold plan to preserve the world’s biodiversity: set aside half of the entire planet for natural habitats. Jeffrey Brown talks to Wilson for more.

View the video.

About the Book

Half-Earth proposes an achievable plan to save our imperiled biosphere: devote half the surface of the Earth to nature. In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature.

If we are to undertake such an ambitious endeavor, we first must understand just what the biosphere is, why it’s essential to our survival, and the manifold threats now facing it. In doing so, Wilson describes how our species, in only a mere blink of geological time, became the architects and rulers of this epoch and outlines the consequences of this that will affect all of life, both ours and the natural world, far into the future.

Half-Earth provides an enormously moving and naturalistic portrait of just what is being lost when we clip “twigs and eventually whole branches of life’s family tree.” In elegiac prose, Wilson documents the many ongoing extinctions that are imminent, paying tribute to creatures great and small, not the least of them the two Sumatran rhinos whom he encounters in captivity. Uniquely, Half-Earth considers not only the large animals and star species of plants but also the millions of invertebrate animals and microorganisms that, despite being overlooked, form the foundations of Earth’s ecosystems.

Author E.O. Wilson

In stinging language, he avers that the biosphere does not belong to us and addresses many fallacious notions such as the idea that ongoing extinctions can be balanced out by the introduction of alien species into new ecosystems or that extinct species might be brought back through cloning. This includes a critique of the “anthropocenists,” a fashionable collection of revisionist environmentalists who believe that the human species alone can be saved through engineering and technology.

Despite the Earth’s parlous condition, Wilson is no doomsayer, resigned to fatalism. Defying prevailing conventional wisdom, he suggests that we still have time to put aside half the Earth and identifies actual spots where Earth’s biodiversity can still be reclaimed. Suffused with a profound Darwinian understanding of our planet’s fragility, Half-Earth reverberates with an urgency like few other books, but it offers an attainable goal that we can strive for on behalf of all life.

Available from Liveright / W.W. Norton (ISBN 978-1-63149-082-8)

Come read with us!

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

“To strive against odds on behalf of all of life would be humanity at its most noble.” – E.O. Wilson

A partnership of the Half-Earth Project and the Mickey Hart Book Club

“My time with Dr. Wilson brought me to a revelation — that our destruction of this planet is entirely arrhythmic, the opposite of creation. We have lost our groove, lost our place in the grand musical composition called life.” – Mickey Hart

In his book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, E.O. Wilson writes that in order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet. By protecting half the Earth’s lands and seas, we can ensure the bulk of biodiversity has the space it needs to thrive. Scientists and conservationists say it’s both necessary and achievable.

But why half? And how do we get there?

Let’s find out together.

Leading up to an online book club event on June 10, E.O. Wilson’s birthday, we will feature several Half-Earth experts and cover various aspects of the book.

To begin, you can hear E.O. Wilson narrate the opening of his book, and download the Prologue to get a broad picture of what Half-Earth is all about. Then join us for these conversations live on our Facebook page.

Friday, May 1, 2pm: PAULA EHRLICH, President and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Half-Earth Project lead, will discuss how Half-Earth went from vision to action, and how everyone has a role in reaching the grand goal of half. Watch the conversation from May 1.

Friday, May 15, 2pm: WALTER JETZ, Yale University; Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, will discuss the science behind Half-Earth, and how the Half-Earth Project team is determining which half of the planet needs to be conserved in order to protect the most species. Join the livestream.

Friday, May 29, 2pm: DENNIS LIU, Vice President of Education for the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and lead of the Half-Earth Project Educator Ambassador program, will discuss how educators are inspiring the next generation of conservation stewards, and how students, parents and communities are making a difference on the path to half. Join the livestream or Zoom.

Wednesday, June 10, 2pm: We will hold an online BOOK CLUB to discuss the book, ask and answer questions, and share insights from readers of Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. Join Inaugural Half-Earth Chair and lead scientists at Gorongosa National Park PIOTR NASKRECKI, WALTER JETZ and PAULA EHRLICH, who will field reader questions and discussions about the book. Join the livestream or Zoom.

Submit your questions, or share your favorite part of the book.

Pick up your copy of Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life through AmazonSmile.

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation is a member of Amazon Smile. Please consider shopping for the book club reading selection through this link. Once you’ve picked us as your charity you can find the book by searching for Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. 

AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) allows you to make purchases while donating .5% of eligible purchase to the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. Only purchases made at smile.amazon.com will result in donations.

How to Use Amazon Smile

Prologue – Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

What is Man? Storyteller, mythmaker, and destroyer of the living world. Thinking with a gabble of reason, emotion, and religion. Lucky accident of primate evolution during the late Pleistocene. Mind of the biosphere. Magnificent in imaginative power and exploratory drive, yet yearning to be more master than steward of a declining planet… 

Hear E.O. Wilson narrate the book’s opening (video, left). Download the full Prologue (below) for the big picture of what Half-Earth is all about. Once you’re hooked, buy the book through AmazonSmile (select the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation) to find out WHY HALF and HOW to get there.

Excerpted from Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. Copyright (c) 2016 by Edward O. Wilson. Used with permission of the publisher, Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of  W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

What is Half-Earth? 

Paula J. Ehrlich, Head of the Half-Earth Projectand President and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, answered this and many questions from a Livestream audience on May 1 (video, right). Her conversation is the first in a series of Half-Earth experts leading up to June 10, when a Half-Earth Project – Mickey Hart Book Club collaboration will hold a Livestream book club event where experts will answer book club reader questions about Half-Earth: The Planet’s Fight for Life.

Come read with us!
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