- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (March 7, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781631490828
- ISBN-13: 978-1631490828
- ASIN: 1631490826
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 97 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life 1st Edition
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“Edward O. Wilson possesses a rare, almost unique, combination of immense scientific knowledge and deep humane intelligence. Looking around him at the beloved natural world he has done so much to understand and taking the measure of the massive damage to it caused by human stupidity and greed, he has every reason to succumb to despair. But Half-Earth is not a bitter jeremiad. It is a brave expression of hope, a visionary blueprint for saving the planet.”
- Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve
“Wilson speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all.”
- Oliver Sacks
“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
About the Author
Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than thirty books, including Half-Earth, The Social Conquest of Earth, The Meaning of Human Existence, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives with his wife, Irene Wilson, in Lexington, Massachusetts.
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As I have written elsewhere, it took the Earth four billion years to reach the Holocene, an era where climate, ice, water and life achieved a state of pleasant equilibrium, with jet streams and ocean currents arranged in a virtuous circle. In just the last 150 years, Homo sapiens has upset the entire system, killing off the Holocene in favor of the Anthropocene, in which one invasive species rules, and any other species that does not add to its immediate benefit can be eliminated. And if even if it does add to its benefit, if it hasn’t been domesticated, it can still face extinction. We are clear-cutting the biosphere.
The book is a relentless, hardhitting – make that pounding – indictment of our custodianship. We are far worse than negligent; we are malevolent. We think it does no harm to remove a species from its environs – and its role. The way it really works, Wilson says, is there are no species living on the periphery; every species depends on other species or is critical to their survival. Our total disregard of this simple rule causes unpredictable disaster.
Wilson has been a naturalist all his long life, and it pains him to find things in this state. His childlike appreciation comes through, often overtaking his anger with the wonder of various species and how they live and contribute so differently. That we lose them daily before we even know how they fit in is criminal to him.
Wilson has introduced me to an ugly new subspecies. I will call it the Anthropocene Apologist. AA appears to be a subset of scientists and ignorant people whose attitude is yes, we’ve already wrecked this planet, so let’s just take what we want now and not worry about it. AAs say we should welcome all the invasive species because they fill gaps left by species we made extinct. That they will figure out what to do about the mess when the time comes. It infuriates Wilson. He keeps bringing it up in different contexts, probably because after a lifetime of watching the degradation, he can’t believe there are actual AA scientists promoting it.
His solution is to set aside far more than the 15% now dedicated to wilderness areas and parks. He says we need 50%. This is obviously not going to happen, as populations explode at the same time as land mass disappears (in the rise of the oceans), and less of what’s left is habitable. The book ends very weakly with a plea: Do no further harm to the biosphere.
One of his most profound quotable quotes is right up front in the Prologue: “To strive against odds on behalf of all of life would be humanity at its most noble.” Sadly, his constant and accurate warnings about how destroying Earth’s biological diversity will eventually also destroy humanities ability to survive are being ignored. This book should be included in a time capsule that should only be opened during the “end days” of human existence. It will serve as the ultimate, I told you so.
If there were a 25-star book rating, I would give Half-Earth a solid twenty-five stars.
The proposal, which may be viewed as too bold,or too politically treacherous, is in fact measured, rational and imperative.
Half Earth is better understood as the last opportunity for the preservation of a "Bountiful Earth", and the only reasonable alternative to a largely lifeless "Desolate Earth".