June 28, 2018 – Jeremy Hance
Conservation scientists believe our current mass extinction crisis requires a far more ambitious agreement, in the style of the Paris Climate Accord. And they argue that the bill shouldn’t be handed just to nation states, but corporations too.
Let’s be honest, the global community’s response to the rising evidence of mass extinction and ecological degradation has been largely to throw crumbs at it. Where we have acted it’s been in a mostly haphazard and modest way — a protected area here, a conservation program there, a few new laws, and a pinch of funding. The problem is such actions — while laudable and important — in no way match the scope and size of the problem where all markers indicate that life on Earth continues to slide into the dustbin.
But a few scientists are beginning to call for more ambition — much more — and they want to see it enshrined in a new global agreement similar to the Paris Climate Accord. They also say that the bill shouldn’t just fall on nations, but the private sector too.
A Global Deal for Nature
In 2016, E.O. Wilson — arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist — published a book called Half Earth where he proposed that to save life on Earth (and ourselves) we must set aside around half the planet in various types of reserves. Not surprisingly, the idea was immediately controversial — but it was also picked up by other scientists hungry for an ambitious, hopeful way of facing a future of ecological Armageddon.
Last year, 49 scientists wrote a landmark paper exploring how feasible Half Earth might be across Earth’s different terrestrial ecosystems. But the head-line news of this paper was really this sentence: “We propose a Global Deal for Nature — a companion to the Paris Climate Deal — to promote increased habitat protection and restoration, national — and ecoregion — scale conservation strategies, and the empowerment of indigenous peoples to protect their sovereign lands.”
In less technical parlance, this is a ringing call for a massive, global agreement that would look at drastically increasing the amount of the world covered by parks — in some cases up to the Half Earth goal — and indigenous protected areas. Indigenous people are now widely recognized as some of the best defenders of nature after decades of being sidelined.
This new agreement, they authors contend, should embrace the Half Earth — or Nature Needs Half — goal.