E.O. Wilson just wrote an important editorial, “We must save the living environment” in the New Scientist, June 22, 2009. He calls for action to save the living world at the same level as there has been action about saving the physical world (i.e. work on global climate change).
Many of the comments to his editorial focus on why humans won’t heed his call to work on and try to stop the pending destruction of much of the living microbes that make up so much of our biological world.
While I understand some of the negative comments about whether humanity will be able to make the changes that E.O. Wilson suggests, I also have seen E.O. Wilson reframe other debates successfully. (Note: we are lucky that E.O. Wilson agreed to speak live for our fourth Darwin150 web lecture this fall – you can sign up free here: http://DarwinLecture4.Eventbrite.com).Yes, it is the tendency of humans to be short-term oriented. Yes, humans often find it difficult to understand long-term unanticipated consequences like the destruction of biodiversity from human activity. And yes it is true that it is hard for humans to care about something that they cannot see. I, however, am cautiously optimistic that E.O. Wilson and others can bring this important issue to the attention of humanity. We have found that through concerted grassroots efforts that we have been able to build a Darwin group on Facebook with 250,000 members – many of whom are not scientists. This more mainstream general audience does have an interest in learning about science and even in challenging preconceptions about what is important. I have posted a link to this article in our Facebook group. And I am cautiously optimistic and willing to do some work to support E.O. Wilson and others to reframe the importance of losing so much of our biodiversity. Phil On our way to 1 million, help us get there