Humanity on downward slope: Harvard scientist Wilson

Edward O. Wilson

Edward O. Wilson warns about the degradation of the planet Earth

By Reuters via NAN

The Harvard University scientist, Edward O. Wilson, who has called for setting aside half the planet as a nature preserve said the slope of human history will always be downward.

Wilson, a 92-year old naturalist said the downward slope will remain unless there is global cooperation to save existing species.

Wilson who has been hailed as the Darwin of the 21st century, said humankind is not too polarized to save the planet.

This is despite the dragging of feet by some of the world’s biggest polluters on cutting carbon emissions and arresting global warming.

Wilson said he sees preventing catastrophic climate change — the aim of U.N. climate talks starting in Scotland on Sunday — and saving biodiversity, or the variety of plant and animal species in the world, as two initiatives that must happen together.

“This is the most communal endeavour with a clear definable goal that humanity has ever had and we need to get the kind of cooperation and ethical harmony and planning in order to make it work,” Wilson told Reuters in an interview outside Boston on Oct. 21.

“Otherwise, the slope of human history will always be downward.”

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Today, species are going extinct at a rate not seen in 10 million years, with around 1 million currently on the brink.

To limit the loss, the United Nations has urged countries to commit to conserving 30% of their land and water – almost double the area currently under some form of protection – by 2030.

The so-called “30 by 30” target is in part inspired by Wilson’s Half-Earth Project. First outlined in 2016, it calls for protecting half the planet’s land and sea so there are enough diverse and well-connected ecosystems to reverse the course of species extinction.

“The point is that human nature has not changed enough. Our strongest propensities of a social nature tend to disfavour the lives of most other species,” Wilson said.

Humanity continues to solve problems by burning materials – coal and oil – left behind by ancient organisms, Wilson said, decrying the continued exploration and burning of fossil fuels, which amplifies the destruction of biodiversity.

The Group of 20 rich countries remain divided over phasing out coal and committing to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

G20 nations account for 80% of global emissions, but big polluters such as China and India have also so far dug in their heels.