News and Notes

A Half-Earth progress report from E.O. Wilson

This podcast originally appeared in Mongabay.

by on 13 November 2018

The Half-Earth Project recently held an event at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City called “Half-Earth Day,” which featured the launch of a new Half-Earth educational initiative. Thus there were hundreds of students in the crowd for the marquee event that night — a panel discussion between E.O. Wilson, musician Paul Simon, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (listen to Paul Simon discuss why he supports the Half-Earth Project on a March 2017 episode of the Mongabay Newscast). Many of the students asked the same thing of the panelists: Given the enormity of the problems facing the planet right now, what could they possibly do to help ensure a better tomorrow?

In a broader sense, E.O. Wilson already answered the question of what we can all do to protect the future of life on this planet in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight For Life. In the book, Wilson lays out an almost deceptively simple prescription for saving life on Earth: Devote half of Earth’s surface to nature, and save 85 percent of global biodiversity.

Before the Half-Earth Day panel discussion, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wilson briefly, and he told me about some of the more unlikely allies the Half-Earth Project has enlisted, including numerous businesses. In fact, earlier that day, a partnership between the Half-Earth Project and Burt’s Bees was announced. Burt’s Bees, a company that makes personal care items, is going to fund the mapping of all the bee species in the world, which will in turn help determine the best habitat to conserve in order to protect the world’s bees. The mapping of the world’s species is just one of three phases of the Half-Earth Project that E.O Wilson talks about in this conversation with the Mongabay Newscast.

Photo at top: copyright Piotr Naskrecki