Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity conservation is the subject heading of a new nonfiction book by MIT political scientist, Stephen M. Meyer, The End of the Wild. The chapter titles of this one are particularly dismaying. "Why doing nothing would be worse" "Our moral obligation" "We have lost the wild for now". Marine biodiversity conservation -- Law and Legislation is the sole subject heading for another new book, Killing our oceans : dealing with the mass extinction of marine life by John Charles Kunich. Edward O. Wilson's new book, The creation : an appeal to save life on earth carries the subject headings Biology and Creation. They all seem to be on the same theme: "The human hammer having fallen", in Wilson's phrase—climate change, overuse of resources, habitat reduction, homogenization of the biosphere—what are we to do now for the life that shares our planet with us. There is no going back; what's available to us is to try to abate the trends (again, Wilson's language).

E. O. Wilson is the biodiversity guy, the biophilia guy, (and the ant guy.) He has been writing smoothly and seductively about his passion for life for 40 years. He doesn't think it is hopelessly too late, but we are probably going to lose 25%-50% of all the species on earth, and run out of fresh water, before we get those trends abated. If we do.

It seems almost sinful to enjoy reading about this stuff, but how can you not delight when someone like Wilson wants so passionately to tell us about 'subterranean lithoautotrophic microbial ecosystems (SLIMES)', and that 'It is mathematically possibly to log-stack all the people on Earth into a single block of one cubic mile and lower them out of sight in a remote part of the Grand Canyon,' and about the microscopic inhabitants of microwildernesses, and the results of an appeal he published in 'Notes from Underground, the ant biologists' newsletter.' We had a copy of the new book sitting by our elbow on the desk, so we could write this post, and someone came along and happily grabbed it to check out.

PS. Notice that none of these books would come up if you searched for "global warming" or "climatic change". But the books are out there, and relevant. There are probably others hiding under other broader topics as well.

cover of bookcover of bookcover of book

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