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Half-Earth Day to be celebrated next week

  • This Monday, October 23, marks the first-ever Half-Earth Day.
  • The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and National Geographic timed the event to occur exactly half a year after Earth Day (April 22). But Half-Earth Day also gets its name from the biodiversity conservation initiative spearheaded by renowned biologist and conservationist Edward O. Wilson, discussed in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.
  • Wilson’s idea, which he says is backed up by research, is that we can protect 85 percent of Earth’s biodiversity by conserving half of the world’s land and seas.
  • The evening program at Half-Earth Day will feature legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon, who recently did a 19-city tour in support of Half-Earth.

This Monday, October 23, marks the first-ever Half-Earth Day.

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and National Geographic timed the event to occur exactly half a year after Earth Day (April 22). But Half-Earth Day also gets its name from the biodiversity conservation initiative spearheaded by renowned biologist and conservationist Edward O. Wilson, discussed in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.

Wilson’s idea, which he says is backed up by research, is that we can protect 85 percent of Earth’s biodiversity by conserving half of the world’s land and seas.

“The Half-Earth approach is not only science-based, but it will also expand fundamental science into new directions,” Wilson, who is a research professor emeritus at Harvard, said in a statement. “The goal of discovering and mapping all biodiversity, and especially at the level of species, will lead to immense new knowledge in basic and applied biology.”

Half-Earth Day will feature a full day of programming designed to bring leading conservationists, scientists, and the public together at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to share ideas and inspiration for achieving the goals of the Half-Earth Project.

“Our planet is at a crossroads, and there is both an opportunity and a critical need to act now, and to do so boldly,” Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, said in a statement. “National Geographic is proud to convene the first-ever Half-Earth Day to inspire people everywhere to understand and care for our world, furthering our progress toward a healthier and more sustainable future for generations to come.”

Mongabay interviewed E.O. Wilson earlier this year about the Half-Earth Project, his views on the Trump Administration, and how he maintains a sense of hope for the future. You can listen to portions of that conversation on the Mongabay Newscast episode from January 24, 2017.

The evening program at Half-Earth Day will feature legendary singer/songwriter Paul Simon. Mongabay spoke with Simon earlier this year, as well, in conjunction with the announcement that the 12-time Grammy winner would be doing a 19-city tour in support of Half-Earth. (The proceeds from the tour were donated to the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, though the amount has not been disclosed.) You can listen to Simon discuss why he supports the Half-Earth initiative on the Mongabay Newscast episode from March 21, 2017.

Paul Simon performs during Biodiversity Days. Photo by Chris Sims, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

Paul Simon will be joined at the Half-Earth Day evening program by none other than E.O. Wilson himself, who says he was first inspired to become a scientist after reading about insects in National Geographic magazine in 1939. Biologist and author Sean B. Carroll is also scheduled to be part of the evening program.

An earlier session will highlight current models for conserving large landscapes and the oceans, such as the work of African Parks, the American Prairie Reserve, the Gorongosa Restoration Project, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project, and Tompkins Conservation.

“Half-Earth Day is convening scientists, conservationists and the public to share their unique contributions and thought leadership and to inspire fresh, goal-driven energy and engagement in this compelling campaign,” Paula Ehrlich, president and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, said in a statement.

“There’s never been a more important moment for us to focus on understanding and action to care for our world. We’re asking everyone to take the Half-Earth Pledge and do what they can to preserve the Earth’s biodiversity. Together, as global citizens, we can protect the majority of species and our planet, the only home we will ever know.”

Editor’s note: there will be a second event on Tuesday, the 24th of October, featuring E.O. Wilson in conversation with members of the U.S. Congress, “Wildlife Corridors and Saving America’s Biodiversity,” learn more here.

E.O. Wilson. Image via PBS.org.