E.O. Wilson and his global solution to extinction | NAAEE

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E.O. Wilson and his global solution to extinction

The renowned E.O. Wilson offers a potential solution to the mounting problem of extinction around the world. He writes: "The only way to save upward of 90 percent of the rest of life is to vastly increase the area of refuges, from their current 15 percent of the land and 3 percent of the sea to half of the land and half of the sea. That amount, as I and others have shown, can be put together from large and small fragments around the world to remain relatively natural, without removing people living there or changing property rights. This method has been tested on a much smaller scale at the national and state park levels within the United States."

Perhaps bold, but he argues, doable. What do you all think about this as a solution? Do you think refuges are the way to go? If so, what is the role that environmental education can play here?

Hi Melissa,
These are very interesting questions you pose: Is the refuge solution plausible? If so, what is the role that environmental education can play? In response, I would like to wonder aloud for all of us what exactly E.O. Wilson means by "refuge". (I tried to read the article you included a link to, but alas, I do not have a subscription to the New York Times.) I think this definition of "refuge" is hugely important because of its political implications-- is a refuge an area of land treated with a preservation or conservation mindset? Shall it remain untouched or is a human presence allowed, and to what extent? The answer to these questions may determine the plausibility of using the "refuge" as a solution. (Let me be clear-- designating such bodies of land and water would have an enormously positive impact on the survival of species-- whether the government and citizens would allow it to happen is another question entirely.) If these refuges were to gain a foothold, even if it was not 50% of land and water, environmental education would be of upmost importance to educate the public why and how these areas are so vital to the wellbeing of species, and to the human population. At visitor centers or in towns or cities near the refuges, people need to be informed so they can do their part to protect those areas. If not only rangers and educators, but the population that surrounds the areas of land and water can also act as a shield (not only physical, but societal), it has a greater chance of staying protected. To support the possibility of the refuges at all, environmental education needs to reach the majority of the population to educate citizens of the roles wild animals and plants play in the ecosystem and how they contribute to the wellbeing of our planet.