In his 2016 book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson (1929-2021) proposed designation of half of Earth’s surface, both terrestrial and marine, as a natural reserve to safeguard the remaining biodiversity of the planet, including ourselves. Today about one-sixth of land and one-twelfth of marine areas receive (on paper) protection of the kind Wilson envisioned. Tough economic, social, political, and psychological forces work to impede any further expansion of protection.
During the initial ClassACT HR73 forum on “Half-Earth” last October, five members of the Class of 1973 discussed from a variety of scientific, geographical, disciplinary, professional, and ethical viewpoints the merits and feasibility of protecting the planet. The second, follow-up Forum, scheduled for April 17 at 7:00 ET and entitled “Protecting Half-Earth: Opportunities and Obstacles,” will again bring together a variety of expertise and perspectives to address how Half-Earth will unfold in the future focusing on the challenges of conserving the planet. Topics will include: What are the drivers of environmental change? What do we do with the 50% of the planet that is not protected? What are the pathways to achieving this goal from the perspective of local to subnational to global hurdles? How do we harness the forces at work in the world today to achieve Half-Earth?
The panel of experts who have devoted their careers to preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainability include Kiani Akina, Class of 2025 and an Environmental Science and Public Policy Major at Harvard College; Jason Clay ‘73, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Markets and Food, and Executive Director, Markets Institute for the World Wildlife Fund; David Foster, Ph.D., Director Emeritus, Harvard Forest, Harvard University; and Cristián Samper, PhD., Managing Director and Leader for Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund. W. John Kress ’73, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist and Curator Emeritus, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, who moderated the first ClassACT HR73 “Half-Earth” panel last fall, will lead the discussion of the second panel on April 17 as well.
ClassACT HR73 invites everyone to register below for the “Protecting Half-Earth: Opportunities and Obstacles” Zoom Forum, which aims to scope the challenges we face in the protection of Nature.