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Half Measures by Nigel Summerley, photograph by Rowena J Ronson

We Are What We Focus On

Half Measures by Nigel Summerley

A suggestion to work towards making half of our planet a protected area for wildlife might sound like the slightly bonkers idealism of some teenage eco-warrior.

But the proposal comes from the renowned Harvard scientist Dr E O Wilson. And he’s 85.

So has he perhaps lost the plot? It doesn’t seem so. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to extinction of species and conservation strategies, and what he suggests is the logical extension of what he has learned during a long and illustrious career.

His goal would be to have huge areas free of human interference, in which wildlife could travel north and south or east and west in order to adapt to climate change.

“Islands” of conservation are artificial – and ultimately doomed because they offer no escape, he argues. They can become prisons where disease and disaster can strike animal populations with fatal consequences.

Will anyone listen to Dr Wilson? ” Half Earth is the goal,” he says but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto.”

He knows he’s up against human overpopulation – and no doubt human hubris, greed and selfishness – but he is undaunted. “Battles are where the fun is,” he says.

His particular double take on saving animal species from extinction is daring and brilliant, and surely deserves support from all of us who value the natural world.

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