A new theory, from bottleneck to breakthrough, posits that urbanization, falling fertility and the end of extreme poverty could result in a much greener world than the one we inherited.The scientists behind the idea believe that conservation must continue to “hold on” to species and places as nations make their way through the tightening bottleneck.If trends today persist, the global population could urbanize and fall dramatically in the next couple of centuries, turning conservation into restoration.This post is part of “Saving Life on Earth: Words on the Wild,” a monthly column by Jeremy Hance, one of Mongabay’s original staff writers. As an environmental journalist I’m bombarded every day with headlines like “The Insect Apocalypse is Here” or “Half of Global Wildlife Lost.” The end of nature, at least as previous generations knew it, appears well-freaking-nigh. But what if what we’re really witnessing is not the wholesale collapse of global biodiversity, but rather a short, albeit bleak, moment in geological time — a moment when the ecological health of the world appears in shambles, but also one in which, if you’re brave enough to see it, the shimmer of a newer, better world starts to emerge? A few scientists now say there are macro patterns that point to a world changing in ways almost impossible for us, in 2019, to wrap our heads around. These patterns show that if we just hold on, if conservationists just stand their ground and hold tight, nature might just make its biggest comeback in human history. According to a recent study in Bioscience by three scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), history is in the neck of a bottle right now — everything feels cramped, tight and claustrophobic — but there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. And it’s green. The Bottleneck-to-Breakthrough Theory Last year, Eric Sanderson, WCS’s senior conservation ecologist; Joseph Walston, its vice president of field conservation; and John Robinson, executive vice president of conservation and science, published an open-access paper titled “From Bottleneck to Breakthrough: Urbanization and the Future of Biodiversity Conservation.” The paper didn’t get a lot of attention in the press and has only been cited three times since, according to Google Scholar. But the time-bending story it tells is radically different from most tales told by conservation scientists today — believe me, because I’ve heard enough of them over beers.