A Sustainable Planet
All human advances have been connected to advances in producing and using energy from Earth’s natural resources. Those resources are finite, and we are now at a crossroads. The paths we take will be key to our future.
Earth has endured and survived extreme climate change more than once, with varying impacts on natural life. This time is different. We know the history. We know what’s happening and the impact of our own actions. We understand the limits to crucial resources and what will happen if we do nothing. Most importantly, we have the ability to correct our course in pursuit of a viable future. Are we up to the challenge?
Understanding the full economic picture is the first step to making the right choices. What is the true cost and impact of our options? Is there a viable strategy for converting to 100% renewables, increasing efficiency, and reaching zero emissions? How would this impact the world economy?
Could it be possible to set aside half the earth’s land and sea for nature by the year 2050? Former New Yorker staff writer Tony Hiss investigated the feasibility of this ambitious idea proposed by biologist Edward O. Wilson and emerged inspired and surprisingly optimistic. These efforts are already underway and must focus immediately on a few dozen threatened “hotspots,” home to an enormous percentage of Earth’s plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet.
Soon, if not already, the weight of all the plastic in the world’s oceans will weigh more than all of the oceans’ fish, but plastic pollution is everywhere, not just in the oceans.
No period in global history resembles what humanity is about to experience. Explore the key global forces converging to create the complexity of change, our crisis of confidence in facing the options, and how we can take charge of our destiny.
Human history can be viewed as a repeating spiral of ingenuity—ratchet (technological breakthrough), hatchet (resulting natural disaster), and pivot (inventing new solutions). Whether we can pivot effectively from the last Big Ratchet remains to be seen.
With all of Earth’s five mass extinctions, the climate changed faster than any species could adapt. The current extinction has the same random and rapid properties, but it’s unique in that it’s caused entirely by the actions of a single species—humans.
Human social development, says Morris, is constantly generated by environmental and social factors. The amount of energy that can be extracted from the environment through technology defines the social possibilities, and thus influences the attitudes and world view of each epoch.
An urgent, resounding call to protect 50 percent of the earth’s land by 2050—thereby saving millions of its species—and a candid assessment of the health of our planet and our role in conserving it, from the award-winning author of The Experience of Place and veteran New Yorker staff writer.
Edward O. Wilson
“An audacious and concrete proposal…Half-Earth completes the 86-year-old Wilson’s valedictory trilogy on the human animal and our place on the planet.” —Jedediah Purdy, New Republic
Travel the Journey
Tools to develop sustainable solutions for a balanced ecosystem with nature-inspired strategies.
Lesley Stahl, CBS 60 Minutes
Increasing numbers of fishermen, scientists, and foodies in this country are starting to look at seaweed very differently — as a promising source of food, jobs and help cleaning ocean waters. With rising global populations and limited space to expand agriculture on land, they are turning to the sea — and its “weeds” — as a new frontier.
Moises Velasquez-Manoff, New York Times
Farmers and ranchers in California, Kansas, and North Dakota are using regenerative agricultural practices to pull carbon from the atmosphere and into the soil and, in the process, reducing operational costs and boosting crop yields.
Henry Fountain, New York Times
Can the natural process of carbon capture by certain rock formations be leveraged to remove some of the billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide that humans have pumped into the air since the beginning of the Industrial Age?
Resources for the Future
The world may be on the cusp of its first true energy transition, but more ambitious public policies and technological innovations are needed. Includes commentary on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Energy Outlook Special Report
The economic crisis of covid-19 gives governments a unique opportunity to boost economic growth, create millions of new jobs and put global greenhouse gas emissions into structural decline.