Imagine a not so distant future when humanity and the natural world coexist in harmony. More than half the Earth has recovered its natural wilderness and ecosystems, with farms and grazing lands benefitting from an abundant supply of water. Instead of pockets of nature in a human controlled world, the Earth is a thriving wilderness dotted by sustainable villages and green cities of the future.
Inhabited by more than 6 billion people, the world’s cities provide abundant access to clean air, fresh water, and healthy food. From above they look like “sky parks” with green roofs and tall vertical farms growing thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables. Orchards and urban forests bring nature into the heart of the city, and the air is crystal clear. Cars run on energy generated from the sun and the wind, and the concept of smog is a only a distant memory. What was once called “waste” is now a resource providing a feedstock of materials and energy to the circular economy.
Grains, meats, and other sustainably grown products are produced in rural areas, which are inhabited by another 3 billion people. These people live in a modern “Garden of Eden” – an array of landscapes that range from croplands and grazing lands to semi-natural lands sheltering millions of small villages. Forests are teeming with wildlife buffered by agroforestry zones that provide natural resources and sustainable livelihoods for nearby communities.
Indigenous peoples have autonomy over their lands and are the stewards of vast forests and grasslands. Regenerative techniques of farming and grazing have restored the world’s soils, which are now packed with enough organic matter to store large amounts of moisture, nutrients and carbon. All rivers, lakes and streams are protected by law and have been restored to ensure healthy fish populations and a continuous supply of freshwater. In arid regions, new technologies allow water to be pulled from the air, gradually transforming once uninhabitable areas intolerable land.
The world’s oceans are brimming with life. Half of the oceans have been set aside in a network of protected areas, which allow marine ecosystems to be constantly replenished. Many once-degraded coastal wetlands and mangrove forests have been restored, dramatically increasing both fish and bird populations and providing a primary source of nutrition for much of the world’s population.
Coral reefs have rebounded after a devastating decline in the early 21st century, thanks in large part to scientists who pioneered new methods of incubating young corals, helping them to adapt to warmer ocean temperatures. Once bleached bone-white, coral reefs are more colorful than ever, swarming with schools of multicolored fish.
Huge tracts of the planet’s temperate forests, rainforests and grasslands have been protected and linked by a vast network of nature corridors -- a superhighway system for wildlife that interconnects all of the Earth’s protected areas. On land, the most adventurous can now backpack from the very southernmost tip of Chile all the way to the great Yukon wilderness in Canada, from the mangroves of Mexico to the coastal forests of Newfoundland, from South Africa to Norway, from Malaysia to the steppes of Russia.
The less adventurous can easily access natural areas and experience the magic of our planet’s diverse plant and animal life. Governments understand that this “safety net” for the planet ensures the integrity of our biosphere even in the midst of warming temperatures and will eventually absorb enough carbon to bring our global climate system back into balance.
How do we make this vision a reality? Learn about the One Earth Climate Model.
One Earth has developed a bold, new plan to avert a climate crisis and protect our biosphere. Justin Winters, co-founder of One Earth, explains the three OE goals humanity needs to achieve by 2050 at the Bioneers conference 2018.