Editor’s note: The following is an essay by Paul and Anne Ehrlich from Marilyn Hempel’s recently released book, Facing the Population Challenge: Wisdom from the Elders (Blue Planet United, 2014). The book brings together the responses of fifteen giants in the field of human population and development, who were asked how they would advise an assemblage of the world’s leaders on the future of humanity and the biosphere.
Can a Collapse of Global Civilization be Avoided?
by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich
Virtually every past civilization has eventually undergone collapse, a loss of socio-political-economic complexity usually accompanied by a dramatic decline in population size. Some, like those of Egypt and China, have recovered from collapses at various stages; others, like that of Easter Island or the Classic Maya, were apparently permanent. All those previous collapses were local or regional; elsewhere other societies and civilizations persisted unaffected. Sometimes, as in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, new civilizations rose in succession. In many if not most cases, overexploitation of the environment was one cause.
But today for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as “an act of suicide on a grand scale”, facing what Britain’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a “perfect storm” of environmental problems. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption. But other elements could potentially also contribute to a collapse: an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species, which could lead to a loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival; land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; ocean acidification and eutrophication (dead zones); worsening of some aspects of the epidemiological environment (factors that make human populations susceptible to infectious diseases); depletion of increasingly scarce resources, including especially groundwater, which is being overexploited in many key agricultural areas; water wars and other resource wars. These are not separate problems; rather they interact in two gigantic complex adaptive systems: the biosphere system and the human socio-economic system. The negative manifestations of these interactions are often referred to as “the human predicament”, and determining how to prevent it from generating a global collapse is perhaps the foremost challenge confronting humanity.
The human predicament is driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources, and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption. How far the human population size now is above the planet’s long-term carrying capacity is suggested (conservatively) by ecological footprint analysis. It shows that to support today’s population of seven billion sustainably (that is, with business as usual, including current technologies and standards of living) would require roughly half an additional planet; if all citizens of Earth consumed resources at the U.S. level, it would take four to five more Earths.
Adding the projected 2.5 billion more people by 2050 would make the human assault on civilization’s life-support systems disproportionately worse, since almost everywhere people face systems with nonlinear responses, in which environmental damage increases at a rate that becomes faster with each additional person.
Of course, the claim is often made that humanity will expand Earth’s carrying capacity dramatically with technological innovation, but it is widely recognized that technologies can both add and subtract from carrying capacity. The plow evidently first expanded it and now appears to be reducing it. Overall, careful analysis of the prospects does not provide much confidence that technology will save us, or that GDP can be disengaged from resource use.
Do current trends portend a collapse?
What is the likelihood that this set of interconnected predicaments will lead to a global collapse in this century? There have been many definitions and much discussion of past “collapses”, but a future global collapse does not require careful definition. It could be triggered by anything from a “small” nuclear war, whose ecological effects could quickly end civilization, to a more gradual breakdown because famines, epidemics, and resource shortages cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scarce necessities. In either case, regardless of survivors or replacement societies, the world familiar to anyone reading this paper and the well-being of the vast majority of people would disappear.
How likely is such a collapse to occur? No civilization can avoid collapse if it fails to feed its population. The world’s success so far, and the prospective ability to feed future generations at least as well, has been under relatively intensive discussion for a half-century. Agriculture made civilization possible and, over the last 80 years or so, an industrial agricultural revolution has created a technology-dependent global food system. That system, humanity’s single biggest industry, has generated miracles of food production. But it has also created serious long-run vulnerabilities, especially in its dependence on stable climates, crop monocultures, industrially produced fertilizers and pesticides, petroleum, antibiotic feed supplements, and rapid, efficient transportation.
Despite those food production miracles, today at least two billion people are hungry or poorly nourished. The FAO estimates that increasing food production by some 70% would be required to feed a 35% bigger and still growing human population adequately by 2050. What are the prospects that Homo sapiens can produce and distribute sufficient food? To do so, it probably will be necessary to accomplish many or all of the following tasks: severely limit climate disruption; restrict expansion of land area for agriculture (to preserve ecosystem services); raise yields where possible; put much more effort into soil conservation; increase efficiency in use of fertilizers, water, and energy; become more vegetarian; grow more food for people (not fuel for vehicles); reduce food wastage; stop degradation of the oceans and better regulate aquaculture; significantly increase investment in sustainable agricultural and aquacultural research; and move increasing equity and feeding everyone to the very top of the policy agenda.
Most of these long-recommended tasks require changes in human behavior—thus far elusive.
The critical importance of substantially boosting the inadequate current action on the demographic problem can be seen in the time required to change the trajectory of population growth humanely and sensibly. We know from such things as the World War II mobilizations that many consumption patterns can be altered dramatically within a year, given appropriate incentives. Humane population stabilization and then reduction takes generations.
What needs to be done to avoid a collapse?
The threat from climate disruption to food production alone means that humanity’s entire system for mobilizing energy needs to be rapidly transformed. Warming must be held well below a potential 5°C rise in global average temperature, a level that could well bring down civilization. The best estimate today may be that, failing rapid concerted action, the world is already committed to a 2.4°C increase in global average temperature. This is significantly above the 2°C estimated a decade ago by climate scientists to be a “safe” limit, but now considered by some analysts to be too dangerous, a credible assessment, given the effects seen already before reaching a one degree rise. There is evidence, moreover, that present models underestimate future temperature increase by overestimating the extent that growth of vegetation can serve as a carbon sink and underestimating positive feedback loops.
Many complexities plague estimation of the precise threats of anthropogenic climate disruption, ranging from heat deaths and spread of tropical diseases to sea-level rise, crop failures, and violent storms. One key to avoiding a global collapse, and thus an area requiring great effort and caution is avoiding climate-related mass famines. Our agricultural system evolved in a geologic period of relatively constant and benign climate and was well attuned to twentieth century conditions. That alone is cause for substantial concern as the planet’s climates rapidly shift to new, less predictable regimes.
It is essential to slow that process. That means dramatically transforming much of the existing energy infrastructure and changing human behavior to make the energy system much more efficient. This is possible; indeed sensible plans for doing it have been put forward, and some progress has been made. The central challenge, of course, is to phase out more than half of the global use of fossil fuels by 2050 in order to forestall the worst impacts of climate disruption, a challenge the latest International Energy Agency edition of World Energy Outlook makes look more severe.
This highlights another dilemma. Fossil fuels are now essential to agriculture for fertilizer and pesticide manufacture, operation of farm machinery, irrigation (often wasteful), livestock husbandry, crop drying, food storage, transportation, and distribution. Thus, the phase-out will need to include at least partial substitution of non-fossil fuels in these functions, and do so without greatly increasing food prices.
Unfortunately, essential steps such as curbing global emissions to peak by 2020 and reducing them to half of present levels by 2050 are extremely problematic economically and politically. Fossil fuel companies would have to leave most of their proven reserves in the ground, thus destroying much of the industry’s economic value. Since the ethics of some businesses include knowingly continuing lethal but profitable activities, it is hardly surprising that interests with large financial stakes in fossil-fuel burning have launched a gigantic and largely successful disinformation campaign in the United States to confuse people about climate disruption and block attempts to deal with it.
One factor making the challenges more severe is the major participation in the global system of giant nations whose populations have not previously enjoyed the fossil energy abundance that brought western countries and Japan to positions of affluence. Now they are poised to repeat the West’s energy “success,” and on an even greater scale. India alone, which recently suffered a gigantic blackout affecting 300 million people, is planning to bring 455 new coal plants on line. Worldwide more than 1,200 plants with a total installed capacity of 1.4 million mega-watts are planned, much of that in China, where electricity demand is expected to skyrocket. The resultant surge in greenhouse gases will interact with the increasing diversion of grain to livestock, stimulated by the desire for more meat in the diets of Indians, Chinese, and others in a growing global middle class.
Dealing with problems beyond food supply
There is a real prospect of epidemics being enhanced by rapid population growth in immune-weakened societies, increased contact with animal reservoirs, high-speed transport, and the misuse of antibiotics. Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg had great concern for the epidemic problem, famously stating, “The survival of the human species is not a preordained evolutionary program.” Some precautionary steps that should be considered include forbidding the use of antibiotics as growth stimulators for livestock, building emergency stocks of key vaccines and drugs (such as Tamiflu), improving disease surveillance, expanding mothballed emergency medical facilities, preparing institutions for imposing quarantines, and, of course, moving as rapidly as possible to humanely reduce the human population size.
— Bhekisisa (@Bhekisisa_MG) November 26, 2018
Another possible threat to the continuation of civilization is global toxification. Adverse symptoms of exposure to synthetic chemicals are making some scientists increasingly nervous about effects on the human population.
It has become increasingly clear that security has many dimensions beyond military security and that breaches of environmental security could risk the end of global civilization.
But much uncertainty about the human ability to avoid a collapse still hinges on military security, especially whether some elements of the human predicament might trigger a nuclear war. Recent research indicates that even a regional-scale nuclear conflict, as is quite possible between India and Pakistan, could lead to a global collapse through widespread climatic consequences. Triggers to conflict beyond political and religious strife easily could include cross-border epidemics, a need to gain access to food supplies and farmland, and competition over other resources, especially water and (if the world doesn’t come to its energy senses) oil.
Finding ways to eliminate nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction must move even higher on civilization’s agenda, since nuclear war would be the quickest and surest route to a collapse.
In thinking about the probability of collapse, one must obviously consider the social disruptions associated with elements of the predicament. Perhaps at the top of the list should be that of environmental refugees. Recent predictions are that environmental refugees could number 50 million by 2020. Severe droughts, floods, famines, and epidemics could greatly swell that number. If current “official” predictions of sea-level rise are low (as many believe they are), coastal inundations alone could generate massive human movements; a one-meter rise would directly affect some 100 million people, whereas a six-meter rise would displace more than 400 million. Developing a more comprehensive system of international governance with institutions planning to ameliorate the impacts of such catastrophes would be a major way to reduce the odds of collapse.
The role of science
The scientific community has repeatedly warned humanity in the past of its peril, and the earlier warnings about the risks of population expansion and the “limits to growth” have increasingly been shown to be on the right track. The warnings continue. Yet many scientists still tend to treat population growth as an exogenous variable, when it should be considered an endogenous one—indeed, a central factor.
Too many studies asking “how can we possibly feed 9.6 billion people by 2050?” should also be asking “how can we humanely lower birth rates far enough to reduce that number to 8.6?” To our minds, the fundamental cure, reducing the scale of the human enterprise (including the size of the population) to keep its aggregate consumption within the carrying capacity of Earth, is obvious but too much neglected or denied. There are great social and psychological barriers in growthmanic cultures to even considering it. This is especially true because of the “endarkenment”—a rapidly growing movement toward religious orthodoxies that reject enlightenment values such as freedom of thought, democracy, separation of church and state, and basing beliefs and actions on empirical evidence. They are manifest in dangerous trends such as climate denial, failure to act on the loss of biodiversity, and opposition to condoms and other forms of contraception. If ever there was a time for evidence-based (as opposed to faith-based) risk reduction strategies, it is now.
Krugman https://t.co/sxG89XvHz8 confirms today that the denial of climate change is the mother of all fake news. Long before Trump, the GOP has declared that 'its kingdom was not of this world' mixing up Christian ideals and denial. The rest of the planet is 'left behind'.
— BrunoLatour (@BrunoLatourAIME) August 21, 2018
How can scientists do more to reduce the odds of a collapse? Both natural and social scientists should put more effort into finding the best ways of accomplishing the necessary remodeling of energy and water infrastructure. The protection of Earth’s remaining biodiversity must take center stage for both scientific specialists and, through appropriate education, the public. Scientists must continually call attention to the need to improve the human epidemiological environment, and for control and eventual elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Above all, they should expand efforts to understand the mechanisms through which cooperation evolves, since avoiding collapse will require unusual levels of international cooperation.
Is it too late for the global scientific community to collect itself and start to deal with the nexus of the two complex adaptive systems and then help generate the necessary actions to move toward sustainability? There are certainly many small-scale science-based efforts, often local, that can provide hope if scaled up. For example, environmental NGOs and others are continually struggling to halt the destruction of elements of biodiversity (and thus, in some cases, of vital ecosystem services), often with success. In the face of the building extinction crisis, they may be preserving nuclei from which Earth’s biota and humanity’s ecosystem services might eventually be regenerated. And some positive efforts are scaling up. China now has some 25 percent of its land in conservation areas designed to protect both natural capital and human well-being. The Natural Capital Project is helping improve the management of these areas. This is good news, but in our view, many too few scientists are involved in the efforts needed, especially in re-orienting at least part of their research toward mitigating the predicament and then bringing their results to the policy front.
The need for rapid social and political change
Until very recently, our ancestors had no reason to respond genetically or culturally to long-term issues. If the global climate were changing rapidly for Australopithecus or even ancient Romans, they were not causing it and could do nothing about it. The forces of genetic and cultural selection were not creating brains or institutions capable of looking generations ahead; there would have been no selection pressures in that direction. Indeed, quite the opposite; selection probably favored mechanisms to keep perception of the environmental background steady so that rapid changes (e.g., leopard approaching) would be obvious.
But now slow changes in that background are the most lethal threats. Societies have a long history of mobilizing efforts, making sacrifices and changes, to defeat an enemy at the gates, or even just to compete more successfully with a rival. But there is not much evidence of societies mobilizing and making sacrifices to meet gradually worsening conditions that threaten real disaster for future generations. Yet that is exactly the sort of mobilization we believe is required to avoid a collapse.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in avoiding collapse is convincing people, especially politicians and economists, to break this ancient mold and alter their behavior relative to the basic population-consumption drivers of environmental deterioration. We know that simply informing people of the scientific consensus on a serious problem does not ordinarily produce rapid change, either in institutional or individual behavior.
This is obviously true regarding reproduction and overconsumption, especially visible in what amounts to a cultural addiction to continued economic growth among the already wealthy. One might think that the mathematics of compound interest would have convinced everyone long ago that growth of an industrialized economy at 3.5% annually cannot long continue. Unfortunately, most “educated” people are immersed in a culture that does not recognize, in the real world, a short history (a few centuries) of exponential growth does not imply a long future of such growth.
Unfortunately, awareness among scientists that humanity is in deep trouble has not been accompanied by popular awareness and pressure to counter the political and economic influences implicated in the current crisis. Without significant pressure from the public demanding action, we fear there is little chance of changing course fast enough to forestall disaster.
The needed pressure, however, might be generated by a popular movement based in academia and civil society to help guide humanity toward developing a new multiple intelligence—“foresight intelligence”—to provide the long-term analysis and planning that markets cannot supply. Foresight intelligence could not only systematically look ahead but also guide cultural changes toward desirable outcomes such as increased socio-economic resilience. Helping develop such a movement and foresight intelligence are major challenges today.
If foresight intelligence became established, many more scientists and policy planners (and society) might, for example, understand the demographic contributions to the predicament, stop treating population growth as a “given” and consider the nutritional, health, and social benefits of humanely ending growth well below 9 billion and starting a slow decline. This would be a monumental task, considering the momentum of population growth. Monumental, but not impossible if the political will could be generated globally to give full rights, education, and opportunities to women, and provide all sexually active human beings with modern contraception and backup abortion. The degree to which those steps would reduce fertility rates is controversial, but they are a likely win-win for societies.
Obviously, especially with the growing endarkenment, there are huge cultural and institutional barriers to establishing such policies in some parts of the world. After all, there is not a single nation where women are truly treated as equal to men. Despite that, the population driver should not be ignored simply because limiting overconsumption can, at least in theory, be achieved more rapidly. The difficulties of changing demographic trajectories mean that the problem should have been addressed sooner, rather than later. That halting population growth inevitably leads to changes in age structure is no excuse for bemoaning drops in fertility rates, as is common in European government circles. Reduction of population size in those overconsuming nations is a very positive trend, and sensible planning can deal with the problems of population aging.
While rapid policy change to head off collapse is essential, fundamental institutional change to keep things on track is necessary as well. This is especially true of educational systems, which today fail to inform most people of how the world works and thus perpetuate a vast culture gap. The academic challenge is especially great for economists, who could help set the background for avoiding collapse by designing steady-state economic systems, and along the way destroying fables such as “growth can continue forever if it’s in service industries,” or “technological innovation will save us.”
At the global level, the loose network of agreements that now tie countries together, developed in a relatively recent stage of cultural evolution since modern nation states appeared, is utterly inadequate to grapple with the human predicament. Strengthening global environmental governance and addressing the related problem of avoiding failed states are tasks humanity has so far refused to tackle comprehensively even as cultural evolution in technology has rendered the present international system (like educational systems) obsolete. Serious global environmental problems can only be solved and a collapse avoided with an unprecedented level of international cooperation. Regardless of one’s estimate of civilization’s potential longevity, the time to start restructuring the international system is right now. If people don’t do that, nature will restructure civilization for us.
Similarly, widely based cultural change is required to reduce humanely both population size and overconsumption by the rich. Both go against cultural norms, and, as long feared, the overconsumption norm has understandably been adopted by the increasingly rich subpopulations of developing nations, notably India and China. One can be thrilled by the numbers of people raised from poverty while being apprehensive about the enormous and possibly lethal environmental and social costs that may result. The industrial revolution set civilization on the road to collapse, spurring population growth, which contributed slightly more than overconsumption to environmental degradation. Now population combined with affluence growth may finish the job.
Needless to say, dealing with economic and racial inequities will be critically important in getting large numbers of people from culturally diverse groups to focus their minds on solving the human predicament, something globalization should help. These tasks are being pursued, along with an emphasis on developing “foresight intelligence,” by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere “the MAHB” (mahb.stanford.edu). One of its central goals is to try to accelerate change towards sustainability. Since simply giving the scientific facts to the public won’t do it, this means finding frames and narratives to convince the public of the need to make changes.
We know that societies can evolve fundamentally and unexpectedly, as was dramatically demonstrated by the collapse of communist regimes in Europe in 1989. Rather than tinkering around the edges and making feeble or empty gestures toward one or another of the interdependent problems we face, we need a powerful and comprehensive approach. In addressing climate change, for instance, developing nations need to be convinced that they (along with the rest of the world) cannot afford (and don’t need) to delay action while they “catch up” in development. Indeed, development on the old model is counterproductive; they have a great opportunity to pioneer new approaches and technologies. All nations need to stop waiting for others to act and be willing to do everything they can to mitigate emissions and hasten the energy transition, regardless of what others are doing.
Can we avoid collapse?
Do we think global society can avoid a collapse in this century? The answer is yes, since modern society has shown some capacity to deal with long-term threats, at least if they are obvious or continuously brought to attention (think of the risks of nuclear conflict). Humanity has the assets to get the job done, but the odds of avoiding collapse seem small since the risks are clearly not obvious to most people and the classic signs of impending collapse, especially diminishing returns to complexity, are everywhere. One central psychological barrier to taking dramatic action is the distribution of costs and benefits through time: the costs up front, the benefits accruing largely to unknown people in the future. But whether we or more optimistic observers are correct, our own ethical values compel us to think the benefits to those future generations are worth struggling for, to increase at least slightly the chances of avoiding a dissolution of today’s global civilization as we know it.
Portions of this article were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences journal, January 2013.
Paul R. Ehrlich has been a household name since the publication of his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb. He was born on May 29, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
Co-founder with Peter H. Raven of the field of coevolution, Ehrlich has pursued long-term studies of the structure, dynamics, and genetics of natural butterfly populations. He has also been a pioneer in alerting the public to the problems of overpopulation, and in raising issues of population, resources, and the environment as matters of public policy.
Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies, Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University, Stanford, California. In addition he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. He has been a Stanford University faculty member since 1959.
As a writer, Ehrlich is prolific. He has authored and coauthored some 950 scientific papers and articles in the popular press and over 35 books, including The Population Bomb, The Process of Evolution, Ecoscience, The Machinery of Nature, Extinction, Earth, The Science of Ecology, The Birder’s Handbook, New World/New Mind, The Population Explosion, Healing the Planet, Birds in Jeopardy, The Stork and the Plow, Betrayal of Science and Reason, A World of Wounds, Human Natures, Wild Solutions, On the Wings of Checkerspots, One with Nineveh and The Dominant Animal. He continues to write articles and blogs today.
Ehrlich has appeared as a guest on many hundreds of TV and radio programs including some 20 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show; he also was a correspondent for NBC News. In addition, he has given hundreds of public lectures in the past 40 years.
Ehrlich is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous honorary degrees, the John Muir Award of the Sierra Club, the Gold Medal Award of the World Wildlife Fund International, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Volvo Environmental Prize, the Heinz Award for the Environment, the United Nations’ Sasakawa Environmental Prize, and the 1998 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Many of these honors he shares with his wife and collaborator, Anne H. Ehrlich.
Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, was a wake-up call for an entire generation. By 1993, the Ehrlichs’ perspective had become the consensus view of scientists as represented by the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (Read the “Warning” in the Documents section of this book) and the statement issued by the Population Summit of the world’s scientific academies in New Delhi.
Anne H. Ehrlich was born on November 17, 1933 in Des Moines, Iowa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Kansas. She is now a Senior Research Scientist in Biology at Stanford University, Stanford, California. She focuses her research on policy issues related to the environment. In 1987, she also became Associate Director/Policy Coordinator of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford.
Anne Ehrlich has carried out research and co-authored many technical articles in population biology. She also has written extensively on issues of public concern such as population and family planning, environmental protection, and environmental consequences of nuclear war—and is co-author of ten books, including The Population Explosion, Healing the Planet, The Stork and the Plow, and Betrayal of Science and Reason.
Anne served as one of seven consultants to The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Global 2000 Report (1980) and has served on the boards of directors of Friends of the Earth, Conferences on the Fate of the Earth, the Center for Innovative Diplomacy, Redefining Progress, and the editorial board of Pacific Discovery (journal of the California Academy of Sciences).
She is the recipient of the United Nations’ Sasakawa Environment Prize, the Heinz Award for Environmental Achievement, Distinguished Peace Leader Award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and the 1998 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Many of these honors she shares with her husband and collaborator, Paul Ehrlich.
Paul and Anne Ehrlich have worked together since the 1950s, beginning their scientific collaboration through research on butterflies. This led to an important understanding of the dynamics of animal populations.
These ecological and evolutionary principles were later applied by the Ehrlichs to help assess the impact of human populations on the environment. In examining the impacts of population growth, consumption, and use of inappropriate technologies around the world, the Ehrlichs have produced an enormous body of work—and stimulated public and political attention to environmental issues. They have displayed exceptional personal courage in taking a prominent public stand on diverse questions critical to the future of humankind, such as the preservation of biodiversity and endangered species, the hazards of pesticide pollution, the search for racial justice, and nuclear winter.
The Ehrlichs have together written more than 30 books and hundreds of articles.
The Ehrlichs remain active as leaders in scientific and environmental organizations. Most recently they have founded The MAHB: The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. The MAHB mission is to foster, fuel and inspire a global dialogue on the interconnectedness of activities causing environmental degradation and social inequity—and to create and implement strategies for shifting human cultures and institutions towards sustainable practices, and an
equitable and satisfying future.
Through the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford, they work with an international team of scholars to use science to help conserve humanity’s “biological capital.” That capital is the plants, animals, and microorganisms that are essential to providing the ecosystem services that support human society.
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