I came across this article a few weeks ago and found it very interesting, so I felt I should share it and discuss its ideas.
Is summary the article basically says that E.O. Wilson (who is an evolutionary biologist) thinks we can save a great deal of species from the current mass extinction (that most believe is man made, but we will get into that another time) by simply quarantining off half of the planet. That would allow the natural ecosystem to stabilized and make a comeback with the absence of the hand of man. I think his argument makes sense, but when you start thinking about the logistics of it, it is seems all but impossible.
From what I understood we would not simply draw a line somewhere and say that no one can live on this side of the line, rather there would be large swaths of land (tens of millions of acres) set aside as reserves. Sort of like we have now but much larger land areas so the cumulative area equals roughly half the land mass of the planet. I think that would be doable and much more feasible that having to relocate a portion of the planets population if this was done the other way.
There are numerous problems with this though as how do you keep people from going into these reserves and cutting down trees or killing animals. That is the bigger issue in my opinion. Look at Africa for example, I know that continent has a boat load of more important problems than conservation, but they cannot protect a few thousand acres from poachers who are coming on to reserves to kill rhinos for their horns and elephants for their tusks. I would also point out that the backwards thinking booming Asian population is driving these poachers. They believe that the rhino horns have medicinal properties, which is totally false and holds no scientific logic, but they continue to believe this. In fact the price of a rhino horn is more valuable than its weight in gold. You can see how based on that alone someone would face imprisonment or worse to obtain a precious rhino horn. Heck I have even though about quitting my job and killing some rhinos! I am totally joking and think that poachers should be shot on site, but that is just me.
The article also talks about population growth and how Wilson thinks it will stabilize in the near future. However, the article also argues that he was using old data and that our population numbers will not stabilize in the future but continue to rise. That is a scary thought all on its own. I found this article that talks more in-depth about the rising population of the future. I think this is another problem for our future one that is not talked about as much. AI, nuclear war, and the energy crisis are sexier topics to talk about, but population growth seems to be a much more real and serious threat to our future than the latter three.
The last thing I wanted to discuss was that even if our population continues to grow exponentially, it seems that most of us are concentrated in large cities, I do not know the numbers but I think it would be interesting to know what percentage of us live in New York, L.A., Tokyo, Beijing, London, Sao Palo, and maybe a hand full of other cities. I wonder if 50% of our population lives in the top 10 biggest cities of the world. I would think it would be more than that, and it that is the case I think we could equally distribute another 10%-15% in those cities without much fuss. In doing so that would possibly free up so more land for all the critters to inhabit without us around.
I wonder if our future will be the majority of the human population living in a handful of super cities around the planet. So in around about way would could leave most of the planet to the other creatures. There are also problems with this system as well including how to get fresh and clean drinking water, with so many people living in a small place a breakout of disease is more likely. No to mention air pollution and what to do with all the garbage as well. It is a scary thought, one I admit that I overlooked when thinking about the future. Regardless of our growth at some point our population will have to stabilize. We simply cannot continue to grow exponentially, there will have to be a point where either through disease or something the earth will simply not be able to sustain us.
The good and bad thing about this is that technology should be able to feed us, or at least most of us. That is also a problem as we will continue to reproduce if there is enough to eat or enough resources to go around. Technology may be the X factor as it may be the inhibitor that lets us grow exponentially, with genetically modified foods and crops that are wielding greater harvest than ever before. It is a slippery slope that will certainly have an even more dramatic impact on the other organisms that roam this planet.
If there comes a day where there is not enough to go around, I can tell you that I do not want to be here when that happens.