A new WCS paper offers hope for the future of the planet. Enormous trends toward population stabilization, poverty alleviation, and urbanization, write the authors in the journal BioScience, are rewriting the future of biodiversity conservation in the 21st century.
The paper, written by Senior Conservation Ecologist Eric Sanderson, Vice President for Field Conservation Joe Walston, and Executive Vice President for Global Conservation John Robinson, says that for the first time in the Anthropocene, the global demographic and economic trends that have resulted in unprecedented destruction of the environment are now creating the necessary conditions for a possible renaissance of nature.
Most people think that the population of people on Earth will always rise, but these authors point out that the demographic transition is already well underway. The rate of growth in global population has been dropping since the 1960s. They cite new demographic research that suggests the world population in 2100 could be as high as 12 billion or as low as 7 billion, fewer people than are alive today. The difference depends on actions we take today.
Good urbanization is key. Cities lead people to choose to have smaller families, and the increased income urbanites derive from working in town mean that people can choose to conserve nature, not destroy it, through choices about what they buy and how they live.
These considerations lead the authors to suggest that within our generation, or the generation to follow, if society makes the right moves now, there could be possibilities for rewilding unimaginable to previous generations of conservationists.