Helping Ourselves through Conservation

Helping Ourselves through Conservation

I heard an amazing speaker last month here in Redlands CA – Peter Raven – a world leader in conservation who TIME Magazine has described as a “Hero for the Planet.” Awarded the highest U.S. award for scientific accomplishment (Medal of Science), Raven is the long-time president of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, oldest botanical garden in the U.S., a former Stanford University professor renowned in botany.

He’s also an impressive speaker. 

Speaking on “Saving Life, Saving Ourselves”, I was mesmerized and shocked with the data that poured out of Raven. So — because I’m afraid you won’t read further — I’ll start with the most positive things we can do more of, and then back it up with the stats.

  • Expand our parks and reserves.
  • Gather information on new technologies for sustainable living and get them to as many people as quickly as possible.
  • Reach population stability – where people can live with acceptable levels of consumption. Half of the world’s population lives on $2/day.
  • Continue to explore alternative energies.
  • Continue to learn and vote. Teach and act.

Okay, WHY? — the stats underlying the need for conservation: (many of these are taken or updated from his book

  • We’ve identified 1.9 million species, less than 1/5 of the estimated 12 million species (reference for estimates in footnotes of John Kunich’s Ark of the Broken Covenant)
  •  At the current rate, 2/3 will likely disappear this century (10,000 est every year).
  • Why this matters:  Aside from the negative effect that deforestation has on climate, we’ve had 3.4 billions years of evolution, primarily plants, whereas humans in good numbers have been here about 10,000 yrs
  • Most of our medications come from plants and 2/3 of the world’s population uses plants for medicines.

Despite being aware of recent population numbers, the population data Raven shared and the impact on biodiversity most surprised me – seeing the following numbers and the graphI found online shows the story.

Years Ago            World Population Estimates

10,000 – 15,000:  2 – 3 million

Time of Christ:      300 million

1750:                        Less than 1 billion

1930:                       2 billion

2010:                       7 billion

050 Est:                  10 billion

 My biggest takeaway: Support conservation efforts.

Alaska landscape - a view from the train

About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.

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