Monday, March 08, 2010

An Interview with E. O. Wilson

2010 has been named as the International Year of Biodiversity, and UNESCO is commemorating the year with a number of activities. Edward O. Wilson was the Key Note Speaker for the inaugural event. The Harvard scientist was an excellent choice for the honor because of his decades of leadership in scientific and public efforts to increase understanding of the crisis in biodiversity and the need to take action to halt the extinction of species. Having won two Pulitzer Prizes, Professor Wilson is also eloquent in his passion for the subject.

I quote from the interview UNESCO published with Dr. Wilson:
Q. Is it already too late to avert disaster?

A. It is not too late to stem and then halt the extinction of species and the ecosystems they compose. We are certainly too late to save some of them, but global action now can keep the final loss to a minimum. Science and technology will be a crucial part of the solution. Although vertebrates, corals, plants are reasonably well known, and form the basis of current conservation practice, the great majority of insect and other invertebrates remain unknown to science, as well as almost all bacteria and other microorganisms. These latter "Little things that run the world" are crucial to the survival of the larger creatures, including ourselves. We need a major initiative to explore the little known planet on which we live, in order to preserve its life. We also need to know far more about the life cycles and ecological relationships of both the known and unknown species. The science to achieve this should be fed directly into innovations in conservation as well as to advance technology in many fields.

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