Summary and book reviews of Rescuing the Planet by Tony Hiss

Rescuing the Planet

Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth

by Tony Hiss

Rescuing the Planet by Tony Hiss X
Rescuing the Planet by Tony Hiss
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  • Published:
    Mar 2021, 320 pages

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An urgent, resounding call to protect 50 percent of the earth's land by 2050--thereby saving millions of its species--and a candid assessment of the health of our planet and our role in conserving it, from the award-winning author of The Experience of Place and veteran New Yorker staff writer.

Beginning in the vast North American Boreal Forest that stretches through Canada, and roving across the continent, from the Northern Sierra to Alabama's Paint Rock Forest, from the Appalachian Trail to a ranch in Mexico, Tony Hiss sets out on a journey to take stock of the "superorganism" that is the earth: its land, its elements, its plants and animals, its greatest threats--and what we can do to keep it, and ourselves, alive.

Hiss not only invites us to understand the scope and gravity of the problems we face, but also makes the case for why protecting half the land is the way to fix those problems. He highlights the important work of the many groups already involved in this fight, such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the global animal tracking project ICARUS. And he introduces us to the engineers, geologists, biologists, botanists, oceanographers, ecologists, and other "Half Earthers" like Hiss himself who are allied in their dedication to the unifying, essential cause of saving our own planet from ourselves.

Tender, impassioned, curious, and above all else inspiring, Rescuing the Planet is a work that promises to make all of us better citizens of the earth.

Getting to Half

On a cold, buckety boat ride early one morning near the top of North America, through a forest that looked endless and only kept on getting bigger, I got to thinking that maybe Henry David Thoreau was only half right when it came to his famous and still-ringing cry that "in Wildness is the preservation of the World." Yes, wildness is the answer, but people are missing. Given the state of the planet, if Thoreau were around today, I imagine he'd go the next step and say that "in the People of the Wild is the preservation of the World." Because it is going to take a lot of people to preserve what's still wild, to restore what was once wilder, and to remedy a great calamity in the world.

As a direct result of humanity's destructive actions on the landscape, 1 million species of plants and animals are likely to go extinct, many within the next few decades. A 2019 global assessment, 1,500 pages long, compiled over three years by 145 scientists from fifty countries, makes ...

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