Swiss man pledges $1billion in order to 'save the planet'

Swiss man pledges $1billion in order to 'save the planet'

Over the past couple of centuries - and, more noticeably, in the past few decades - humankind has done a terrible job of looking after the planet. We've torn down rainforests, polluted oceans and rivers, generated tons of non-biodegradable waste, produced mass amounts of CO2, eradicated whole species of animals and plants, and contributed extensively to global warming and the melting of polar ice caps.

Basically, we've messed up. And, unfortunately, very little is being done to fix that.

However, Hansjörg Wyss, a billionaire philanthropist and conservationist, has pledged to spend $1billion over the next decade in order to right some of the wrongs that we are collectively responsible for.

rainforest Credit: Pexels

Wyss, who is 83 years old and earned his billions through making medical devices, has committed himself to conserving more of our planet and protecting spaces that are at risk of pollution and damage.

"Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected," he wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. "It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places."

"For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030. This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target."

And he's not the only one warning about imminent global destruction

Wyss explained that, over the past two decades, he has already donated more than $450 million in order to help conserve nearly 40 million acres of land and water in Africa, South America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Not only has this helped to prevent further destruction of the planet, he says, but it's also created new jobs, attracted visitors and generated local economic growth, and endorsed sustainability in the area.

"Given the scale and urgency of the extinction crisis, world leaders should update the agreement to make a shared commitment to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s marine and land environments by 2030," Wyss stated. "This clear, bold and achievable goal would encourage policymakers around the world to do far more to support communities working to conserve these places."

He concluded his piece by saying: "For the sake of all living things, let’s see to it that far more of our planet is protected by the people, for the people and for all time."

And though most of us reading this right now won't be billionaires, or millionaires, or even what many of us would consider to be "wealthy" people - there are still ways that we can help. We can recycle. We can buy zero-waste goods. We can try to eat more sustainable and environmentally-friendly foods. We can carpool to work, or use public transport. We can invest in energy-efficient goods.

That way, if the billionaires do their bit, and us regular folk do ours, we might have a shot at saving the Earth.