Pen and ink collage by Narca Moore

the global movement to rescue biodiversity and slow the climate crisis begins with you and me.

“One word: Poetry. That’s what the world has to offer us. A whole series of mysteries, of possible discoveries, of phenomena, of unexpected events, and objects, and things, and living organisms and so on. An infinitude, almost, on this planet, waiting out there to be enjoyed.”

–E.O. Wilson

In 2015, my conservation mentor and dear friend Michael Soulé invited me to Washington, D.C. to sit down with international conservation scientists and leaders, and tackle a strategy to save our wild family and our only home, the natural world. Renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson was just about to publish his seminal book Half Earth and wildlife scientist Eric Dinerstein of RESOLVE was intent on stemming the loss of animal and plant life that was tipping our planet toward collapsing ecosystems and the derailing of nature’s climate buffering responses. The story of extinctions was being lost to the narrative of climate change and renewable energy. Solve the climate with technological interventions and all the rest would fix itself was fast becoming the emerging paradigm.

For those of us bearing witness over our own lifetimes to the heart-wrenching fates of wild creatures—and notably, Indigenous peoples—all around us, and recognizing how we are all part of the same interwoven and interdependent tapestry of life, the larger problem was the cumulative loss of so many brightly colored strands of the fabric that holds us. The dynamics of feedback loops seemed to be unraveling even the larger framework of physical processes like fire, ice, ocean currents, springflow, weather. In a conceptual reversal of what ‘chaos theory’ had suggested, the butterfly no longer flapping its wings was changing the weather around the globe.

At the D.C. meeting the answer was simple and clear, however far it was from easy. Save every square inch of still wild nature and every living creature we possibly can over the ensuing 15 years and turbocharge the people-powered movement to do it, in the way that the climate movement was rising up globally. Half Earth, the science-based fifty percent metric, gave us the end goal. The year 2030 gave us a milepost to sight by. The call for thirty percent by 2030 has launched a now global movement, and a new Executive Order by President Biden — 30×30 is you and me, working together for a healthy planet!

“Protecting our important lands and waters is a top priority for our organization. Across Arizona, we have multiple wild areas that should be considered for protection to reach 30×30. Protecting landscapes like the iconic Grand Canyon, the culturally significant Great Bend of the Gila, and the ecologically unique “Sky Islands” of southern Arizona will create landscape connections across the state, critical to sustaining our diverse wildlife, peoples, and economy for generations to come.”

—Kelly Burke, Wild Arizona’s executive director, responding to the recent release of the Biden administration’s ‘America the Beautiful’ report.