Dr. Walter Jetz discusses the Science Behind Half-Earth with the Mickey Hart Book Club

Protecting half the Earth for biodiversity is not just a matter of protecting more places, but protecting the right places where we have the best opportunity to protect the most species. Dig into the deep science, technological advancements, and the unprecedented global species mapping effort at the core of the Half-Earth Project with Dr. Walter Jetz, Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

E.O. Wilson has determined that if we manage half the Earth for species that we can protect the bulk of biodiversity, and as he says, we will enter the “safe zone.” But it’s not just any half, correct?

“Species are a really powerful handle and unit to ultimately approach the larger issue of biodiversity and biodiversity conservation. And the science that comes into the picture here is how you connect what is ultimately at the core of the ambition of Half-Earth—that is, safeguard as many species as possible for future generations—how you go from that aspiration to a place-based agenda or a place-based action.”

“What should we be doing, what should we not be doing, and most of all, where? So that then is what Half-Earth, Ed’s book, and then the initiative that was born out of it, the Half-Earth Project and the Half-Earth Map aim to address.”

—Dr. Walter Jetz, Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Ed says we live on a “little known planet,” so the species data, where is it coming from? How are you gathering that data? How are you analyzing that data? Processing that data, and what is different in the approach that you are taking at Half-Earth than other approaches that have been taken in the past?

“[Our work] draws on efforts and contributions of thousands and tens of thousands of scientists and citizen scientists over the last centuries and particularly in recent days.”

“We are if you will the synthesizers, we and others out there, biogeographers, conservation biogeography, we try to bring that information together…we are developing models that pull in also remote sensing information from satellites, a whole suite of artificial intelligence or statistical methods to then come up with the best possible characterization of where each single species occurs on the planet.”

“That’s really at the base of the Half-Earth Map science. Because without this information, we don’t know what may be occurring in a particular place, and what we may be losing. With this information, for tens of thousands of species, we can do something called “spacial reserve design” or we can apply optimization techniques that use the principle of complementarity to identify the places that are most important for species going forward.”

—Dr. Walter Jetz, Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Watch the full video here.

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