Article by Min Seo
Twelve-time Grammy winner Paul Simon announced last month tat he and his band are embarking on a 17-city U.S. summer concert tour, with proceeds to support the Half-Earth Project of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. Half-Earth is a collaborative effort to conserve half of Earth for all of life, with inspiration from Wilson’s most recent book. Paul Simon, a friend of Wilson and member of the Half-Earth Council, made this announcement in an interview published in Mongabay on March 13. Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) is a member of the Half-Earth coalition, and is excited about this project and concert series.
Edward O. Wilson, the Exemplar Award Recipient of 2016 CPF gala, is known as one of the most respected biologists in the world. He founded the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation in 2005 in order to promote a culture of stewardship in which people are keenly aware of the significance of conservation of nature. In March last year, he kicked off Half-Earth project through his organization with the release of his book titled ‘Half-Earth.’ In his book, he proposes that we need to devote half the surface of the Earth to nature so that we can protect the biodiversity of our planet from the ongoing extinctions of species. He says that considering the huge magnitude of this issue, dedicating the full half of the Earth is commensurate with our current crisis.
The relationship between Wilson and Simon has started with their meeting at a TED conference in 2007. Wilson was one of the prize winners, and Simon was a performer there. According to his interview with Mongabay, Simon became inspired by Wilson’s message at the time that even if we could lose our planet, we have the ability to fix it. In terms of that ability, Simon thought that while regenerating the Earth might take up to 200 years, ruining it would take less time and thus would be easily done. He also grasped the possibility of species extinction and the following destruction of the ecosystem. Wilson’s message resonated with him by suggesting the reason to confront these issues to him.
Last year, Paula Ehrlich, who is the current president of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, contacted Simon after hearing a radio interview in which he talked about his lasting impression of Wilson. She suggested a reunion with Wilson to him that would be held for the first time in ten years after their first meeting. At their reunion in New York, Wilson gave Simon a copy of Half-Earth and asked him to help Half-Earth project draw people’s attention.
While reading the book, Simon awoke to the dire consequences of the loss of biodiversity again. He was shocked at Wilson’s explanation that as the death of many species which never regenerate progresses further, the large ecosystems supporting biodiversity will be severely impacted and eventually die out. He soon decided to support Wilson’s Half-Earth project that fully recognizes these potential threats and aims to conserve biodiversity. At the time of his decision, he also realized that what he can do for this project is singing at a concert. Both his shock and optimism about our threatened biodiversity led him to have a 17-city concert tour in this June.