Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
August 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Edward O. Wilson
Total Pages: 

Edward O. Wilson, widely recognized as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists and author of 31 books, is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes. This was a gift book. (For his books I’ve read, click on his name.)

The Amazon website for the paperback edition I was given is

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this book's covers at the website above.]

The home page has the back cover’s brief summary. I strongly recommend two Top customer reviews: the detailed review by David Wineberg and the brief review by Michael Rubin. You might also find the 25-star brief review by Richard interesting.

Using Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ option, scroll down from the front cover to see the 2-pp list of his first 30 books – this list gives the dates of each book (usually not included in such lists). The 2-pp Contents shows the three Parts and names all 21 Chapters. There are 21 composite black-and-white full-page drawings in this book. I recommend reading his 4-pp Prologue. Each of the three Parts has a subtitle that is not included in the Contents, so I give the subtitles here.

PART I – The Problem: The variety of life-forms on Earth remains largely unknown to science. The species discovered and studied well enough to assess, notably the vertebrate animals and flowering plants, are declining in number at an accelerating rate – due almost entirely to human activity.

PART II – The Real Living World: A large part of biodiversity still exists in both species and ecosystems, but the time that remains to save it is running short. It can be largely gone by the end of the century. What follows is an image of its immense surviving breadth.

PART III – The Solution: The Global conservation movement has temporarily mitigated but hardly stopped the ongoing extinction of species. The rate of loss is instead accelerating. If biodiversity is to be returned to the baseline level of extinction that existed before the spread of humanity, and thus saved for future generations, the conservation effort must be raised to a new level. The only solution to the ‘Sixth Extinction’ is to increase the area of inviolable natural reserves to half the surface of the Earth or greater. This expansion is favored by unplanned consequences of ongoing human population growth and movement and evolution of the economy now driven by the digital revolution. But it also requires a fundamental shift in moral reasoning concerning our relation to the living environment.

It is clear that Edward O. Wilson is not content with human morality limiting the world’s population growth and the resources humanity should take to achieve‘mere’ sustainability. We also need to have an active involvement in what it takes to provide each special type of the half-earth with the conditions necessary for sustainability for saving all the species required for a stable environment. Here I provide his last paragraph of the final chapter – Ch. 21:

“We should forever bear in mind that the beautiful world our species inherited took the biosphere 3.8 billion years to build. The intricacy of its species we know only in part, and the way they work together to create a sustainable balance we have only recently begun to grasp. Like it or not, and prepared or not, we are the mind and stewards of the living world. Our own ultimate future depends upon that understanding. We have come a very long way through the barbaric period in which we still live, and now I believe we’ve learned enough to adopt a transcendent moral precept concerning the rest of life. It is simple and easy to say: Do no further harm to the biosphere.”

This last paragraph ends with the strong statement to “Do no further harm to the biosphere.” This paragraph also illustrates the mastery of wording that Edward O. Wilson has shown in his many books. Reading him makes one aware of how beautiful is his command of writing, even when the subject matter presents, especially in this book, a well-based and very important aspect of biodiversity and the Earth’s environment. He manages to inform and warn us with a writing style that makes his books hard to put down once you begin reading one of them.

I rate Half-Earth at five stars – for the message and the writing style (and drawings).