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The View From The Bottleneck: Is Nature Poised For A Big Comeback?

February 20, 2019 |

Jan Bambach [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

This article was originally published on Mongabay


  • A new theory, from bottleneck to breakthrough, posits that urbanization, falling fertility and the end of extreme poverty could result in a much greener world than the one we inherited.
  • The scientists behind the idea believe that conservation must continue to “hold on” to species and places as nations make their way through the tightening bottleneck.
  • If trends today persist, the global population could urbanize and fall dramatically in the next couple of centuries, turning conservation into restoration.
  • This post is part of “Saving Life on Earth: Words on the Wild,” a monthly column by Jeremy Hance, one of Mongabay’s original staff writers.

“…Last year, Eric Sanderson, WCS’s senior conservation ecologist; Joseph Walston, its vice president of field conservation; and John Robinson, executive vice president of conservation and science, published an open-access paper titled “From Bottleneck to Breakthrough: Urbanization and the Future of Biodiversity Conservation.” The paper didn’t get a lot of attention in the press and has only been cited three times since, according to Google Scholar. But the time-bending story it tells is radically different from most tales told by conservation scientists today — believe me, because I’ve heard enough of them over beers.

The scientists’ “bottleneck to breakthrough” theory posits that if global society continues to become increasingly urbanized, fertility rates decline (and eventually fall below replacement levels) and extreme poverty vanishes, then nature will have a chance to make a comeback. Not on a global scale in any of our lifetimes (those of us around today will likely be left in the bottleneck), but certainly our children’s children could inherit a much more promising world than we have today.

“It is not inconceivable that two centuries from now, the population could be half what it is today and the long-cherished goals of a world where people respect and care for nature may be realized,” the researchers write. “Espe­cially if we act now to foster this eventuality.”

The trinity here is population, poverty and urbanization…”

Read on at: Mongabay.

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