One million: That’s the number of species at risk of extinction, according to a recent United Nations–sponsored assessment. The report warned that 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of coral reefs, and one-third of marine mammals are at risk of disappearing forever. While the study noted that climate change is accelerating the die-offs, the main culprit in this impending mass murder is reckless human land use. "Less than 25 percent of Earth’s land surface has escaped substantial impacts of human activity," the report concluded. In response to the biodiversity crisis, the Sierra Club and other organizations are promoting a goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s lands and waters by 2030 (see " Getting Back to Ecology "). To reach this goal, government action is essential. So, too, is the generosity of individuals. Around the world, wealthy environmentalists are experimenting with new forms of landscape preservation. In South America, US conservationists Kris Tompkins and her husband, the late Doug Tompkins, purchased more than 2 million acres of Patagonia—then donated it all to the Argentine and Chilean governments in the largest act of wildlands philanthropy in history (see " The Gift "). Another innovative example comes from the Great […]


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