Skip to main content

Book Talk: Rescuing the Planet with Tony Hiss

Join the Natural Areas Conservancy and Cary Institute for a virtual book talk featuring author and scholar Tony Hiss. In conversation with Cary President Dr. Joshua Ginsberg and the Natural Areas Conservancy’s Executive Director Sarah Charlop-Powers, Hiss discusses his new book:  Rescuing the Planet - Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth.

In Rescuing the Planet, Hiss sets out on a journey to take stock of the “superorganism” that is the earth: its land, its elements, its plants and animals, its greatest threats – and what we can do to keep it, and ourselves, alive. Hiss invites us to understand the scope and gravity of the problems we face, and also makes the case for why protecting half the land is the way to fix those problems.  

He highlights the important work of the many groups already involved in this fight, such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the global animal tracking project ICARUS. And he introduces us to the engineers, geologists, biologists, botanists, oceanographers, ecologists, and other “Half Earthers” like Hiss himself who are allied in their dedication to saving our own planet from ourselves.

Tony Hiss lays out what can—indeed must—be done to slow the tide of extinction. Rescuing the Planet is at once sobering and joyful—a celebration of life and the many people working to save it.

Elizabeth Kolbert

Join the conversation about Hiss' latest work, and why organizations like Cary Institute and the Natural Areas Conservancy give him hope for a resilient future

Funding for this event is provided in part by Harney & Sons Tea (Cary Institute) and Con Edison (Natural Areas Conservancy).

Tony Hiss

Tony Hiss, an author, lecturer, and consultant on restoring America's cities and landscapes is the author of thirteen books, including The Experience of Place, The View from Alger's Window, and In Motion: The Experience of Travel. Hiss was a staff writer at the New Yorker for more than thirty years, and since then has been a visiting scholar at New York University.

rescuing the planet


Purchase a copy of Rescuing the Planet from our friends at Merritt Bookstore or your local bookseller.

Tony Hiss has offered to provide a signed bookplate to guests of this evening’s program. Drop him a note at if you are interested.



Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?  Smithsonian
Natural Areas Conservancy
The State of Conservation in North America’s Boreal Forest: Issues and Opportunities. [Policy brief]
Carbon in NYC's Forests. Natural Areas Conservancy
NYC Forest Management Framework. Natural Areas Conservancy

Book recommendations

Planetary Health. Samuel Myers and Howard Frumkin
Biophilia. Edward O. Wilson


All slides (pdf)

half earth
Right now we are protecting ~15% of land - which ensures only ~25% of species will survive. With 50% conserved ~ 85-90% of species will be protected. Goal: 50% by 2050.
In New York City, there is over 20,000 acres of natural area parkland — and urban natural areas across the country have real power in offering communities a whole suite of benefits, including flood mitigation and cooling rising temperatures.


More on this topic