Importance of Natural Resources

What If We Set Aside Half the Planet for Wildlife?


About 65 million years ago, a mass extinction event occurred, wiping out more than 75% of all species on Earth. There have only been 5 mass extinctions in our planet’s 4.5 billion year history. But the next one has already started. By the end of this century, one in six species on Earth could be gone. Will humans go with them? How could we survive a sixth mass extinction? How could we prevent one? The reason we’re all still alive on this planet is thanks to biodiversity. From the tallest trees, to the biggest animals, to the weirdest plants, to the grossest fungi, to the buzziest bugs, and, even the creatures you can’t see, we all rely on each other to make life on Earth possible! And our world would be harmonious except that… humans are unreliable. Thanks to our unstable practices, the world’s wildlife is inching towards an extinction rate that’s 10,000 times faster than what is considered to be natural. Without taking drastic action, we might be facing extinction ourselves. But how far are we willing to go? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and biologist E.O. Wilson came up with what is now known as the “Half-Earth idea.” It involves making half the planet a “human-free” zone, leaving nature to do what it can to stabilize itself. This means that the current global population of roughly 7.7 billion people would have to make do with half the space we currently have. And for a lot of people, that’s just not feasible. Cordoning off half the world for extreme conservation would displace roughly one billion people. Most of them from low income backgrounds. Think of those parts of the world where overpopulation is severe, and then imagine that situation everywhere! But housing isn’t our only concern. We also need food and fresh water to survive! Today, one-third of Earth’s land surface and 75% of its freshwater resources are used for crop and livestock production. Yet at least 10% of Earth’s population doesn’t have enough food. How many more people will go hungry when we no longer have access to those resources? Economically speaking, the forest and fuel industries could collapse because there’d be less land to work with. This would leave millions of people out of work. But the losses might be recouped in the form of new opportunities in more sustainable fields. In fact, setting aside half the planet for environmental protection wouldn’t be a total financial disaster. $577 billion (US) in annual global crops are currently at risk due to pollinator loss, while roughly 40% of the world’s economy as a whole relies on biological resources. If we continue down the path we’re on, we risk depleting the bee population in its entirety, as well as the other biological resources we depend on. But by protecting them, their declining numbers may have the opportunity to regenerate, so that we can continue to benefit from their output in a sustainable way. Of course, it’s not just about the money. The fact is that the more biodiverse an ecosystem is, the healthier it is. A healthy ecosystem can clean water, help to purify the air we breathe, regulate the climate, maintain the soil needed for crops and food, plus recycle nutrients while we’re at it. In short, we can’t afford to continuing living in a way that accelerates the extinction of other species. Because we need them as much as they need us. The Half-Earth idea, might be too much. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to implement. But the consequences of doing the bare minimum would be even worse. We’ve got to spread the word, and remind each other that we’re all in this together. No matter how big, no matter how small. Because every time a species goes extinct, it brings humans closer to our own extinction. Don’t believe me? Have you ever wondered what would happen to us if all the world’s insects disappeared? Well, that’s a story for another WHAT IF.


Reader Comments

  1. 1/2 part of the earth for wildlife…. Perfectly balanced as all things should be
    This does put a smile on thanos face

  2. and you said Thanos's idea on wiping out half of the universe is a bad thing? I would be gladly okay if half of the humanity are gone, even if I'm included.

  3. We can grow trees In different parts of building like terrace ,balcony Like China is making right now IT WOULD BE MORE EFFICIENT

  4. INSTEAD OF MAKING NUCLEAR BOMBS WHY DONT THEY PRODUCE SOMETHING TO CLEAR THIS TRASH THAT WE POLUTED

  5. But I thought for instance, Texas has enough property for every American to have 1 acre of land. If that’s true then for at least us we have the rest of the USA for farms and wild life. But humans are “unreliable”.

  6. what if all humans cooperated with each other and put religion and rivalries aside, to fix climate change and actually evolve as a species?

  7. First extension deadly space rock
    Current extension a form of life it’s self and it us
    Life don’t you just love to ironic fun

  8. Yea we need food, doesn’t need to be fast food. And we don’t need 10+ McDonald’s per town either. So maybe if we were mindful of what we build we wouldn’t have this problem

  9. I think the planet should get split in 4 or 6. Wildlife and the other 3-5 sections can be for different kinds of people with different ways of thinking and life ideals.

  10. Y’all wanna be Thanos so bAadD knowing damn well Overpopulation is a lie. We live in a system that produces more than enough resources to feed the entire planet but it’s opts not to In favor of profit and greed. If only there was more emphasis on kindness and cooperation rather than obedience and tyranny.

  11. it's funny how when it comes to talk of fixing the earth it's cool when animals die, but if our population takes a loss it's a bad thing. there's enough of us already, that mindset is what's killing the earth ?

  12. Some kind of Officer: Hey! What are you doing, that side is only for wildlife!

    I- Uh- I'm a tree, im a tree, yes i am! I'm definitely a tree!

  13. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PRESENT: AFTERMATH POPULATION ZERO
    THEY MADE THEIR GOOD POINTS ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT HUMAN BEINGS

    WITHOUT HUMAN BEINGS EARTH WILL TAKE THOUSANDS TO MILLIONS YEARS
    TO FULLY RECOVER %100+

  14. Lions vs humans… Extinction race… Coronavirus joined the battle… A few years later…
    Lions: did we win?
    Coronavirus: thanks to me that you won!

  15. wildlife?we did that.we put savage living being who fight on each other for power,destroying ecosystem for money and live their life nothing more than to harm other living being.we did that and that wildlife's name is human.

  16. Verticle food production. Living in high rises, embracing underground living. Very doable. Many counties have more than 50% left wild. I know mine sure does.

    What if all moved underground and let the surface do it's thing? The tech is there, that is how we would likely live on Mars.

    Use towers with mirrors to funnel sunlight down. Hydroponics to grow most foods. We can be way, way more responsible with waste. Chicago is working on an underground addition.

    Geothermal constant temp at the right depth. So no heating or cooling costs. Hyperlink instead of airplanes. Subways instead of cars.

    Lots of things to figure out, but totally doable. Also inside of mountains, floating or underwater cities.

    Works in Minecraft. ?

  17. Title and Thumbnail: Fun, lighthearted thing that seems fun to learn about.

    First thirty seconds: one in six species could be extinct.

    Me: sweating

  18. I believe that at least 40 percent of people are trash and as*h*les including criminals, I hope we could just kill them. If we could only determine which people deserves to live and get rid of the another 40 percent. Also mass elimination of these people should be done at least every 30 years, I call it "cleansing."

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