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.
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.