By Jeff Yamauchi
Ka Lā staff writer
One of the strengths of the IUCN World Conservation Congress is the ability to draw iconic figures in the field of conservation. Notably, E.O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and the leading advocate in preserving biodiversity.
In an hour long press conference, Dr. Wilson was surprisingly optimistic about saving at least 80% of all species by designating half of the planet essentially as a wildlife preserve. For instance, half of the oceans are under the sovereignty of the full extent of the 200 nautical miles of the economic exclusion zone for each respective country. This leaves the other half to be International Waters and having the potential to be designated as protected conservation zones. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a good start, but it’s a proverbial drop in the bucket if we want to be serious about protecting vast numbers of species from quickly disappearing. Many leading scientists believe the modern age to be a period of mass extinction unparalleled since the dinosaurs’ demise some 65 million years ago.
Although his message at first appear dire and monumental, E.O. Wilson presented himself during the interview like a Southern gentleman farmer or a soft spoken but highly engaging professor that meanders off topic to other interesting tangents. For instance, he entertained the press room audience when he pantomimed in great detail describing the beauty of a specific ant, and seriously believed it to be the most beautiful creature on the planet or at least in his eyes.
In the end, the message E.O. Wilson is unequivocally sending us is that of hope. He is also gently prodding us to have the gumption to meet the global environmental challenges head on with revolutionary goals and concrete objectives to essentially save life on the planet for us and future generations. His quiet smile urges us all to take up the conservation cause.
For more about E.O. Wilson’s view of half earth project go to: http://eowilsonfoundation.org/watch-pbs-newshour-video-how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/