Atlas for the End of the World
On May 20, 1570, Abraham Ortelius—book collector and engraver from Antwerp—published the world’s first Atlas: the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World). With his maps Ortelius laid bare a world of healthy ecoregions ripe for exploitation. Some 450 years later, at the opposite end of modernity to Ortelius, researchers at Penn Design are building the Atlas for the End of the World— an atlas about the end of Ortelius’ world, the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation and its concomitant myths of progress.
The Atlas shows the difference between the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity targets for achieving 17 percent global terrestrial area as protected habitat by 2020 and what is actually now protected. A new Penn IUR brief, Atlas For the End of the World: Mapping that Recognizes the Interdependence of People and Conservation, describes the measurement efforts to meet these targets by 1) mapping protected areas in the ecoregions within world’s biodiversity hotspots and calculating how much remains to meet targets, and 2) demonstrating the coming conflicts between projected city growth and biologically diverse habitat.