News and Notes

Half-Earth: Here it is! – Die Zeit

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“If you can read but one book on maintaining species diversity, then please read Edward O. Wilson’s Half-Earth, Our Planet’s Fight for Life.  Starting a contest between the current crises is not particularly wise, but it may be necessary to escalate it,” writes science journalist, Fritz Habekuss, in the German magazine, Die Zeit.  “The fact that the loss of biological diversity is at least as dangerous as the climate crisis has still not got around. One reason for this is that the ecological crisis is too often equated with the extinction of panda, rhino, and polar bear. But it’s only about the big beasts on the sidelines – the focus is on ‘the little things that run the world’”.

This is how the famous biologist describes it. He has described 400 new species of insects and has written several meters of shelves for non-fiction books, for which he has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice. You can tell how well Wilson writes when you revisit Half-Earth five years after it was published. It brings an emotionality into the debate that arises from a deep understanding of the interrelationships of the living world. Wilson doesn’t need kitsch, he has knowledge. It is also worth rereading because this book not only explains the causes of the loss of biodiversity but also makes a political proposal. Unlike the climate activists who can invoke the Paris Agreement, those who are committed to nature lack a clearly defined goal. So Wilson gives one thing: put half of the earth under protection!

It is not as easy as the biologist would have us believe. But at least it’s an idea to argue about. That is exactly what is supposed to happen in the coming months. In autumn, new nature conservation goals will be negotiated in China at a major UN biodiversity conference (COP CBD15 in Kunming). The EU is aggressively promoting the protection of 30 percent of the oceans and the country by 2030.

Where did they get the idea from?”

Adapted and translated from “Half-Earth, here it is!” by Fritz Habekuss, DIE ZEIT, March 18, 2021.

Fritz Habekuss, is an editor for DIE ZEIT in Hamburg. He studied science journalism at the TU Dortmund University with a focus on life sciences and medicine. As a reporter, he focuses mainly on ecology, nature, and the Anthropocene and on the fundamental relationship between man and nature. In May 2020 he co-wrote with Dirk Steffens, the bestselling non-fiction ÜBER LEBEN – How to Overcome the Ecological Crisis, published by Penguin Press.

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