“Soccer moms are the enemy of natural history,” says Edward O. Wilson, Pulitizer Prize winning Harvard biologist. He is concerned about the loss of world biodiversity, and perhaps if children spent more time playing in the dirt and searching for bugs and worms, they would grow up with a greater interest and knowledge of life. He observes that we live on an unknown planet with only 1.8 million species named and partly understood. This may be only 10 percent of the total. We do not know what small organisms are out there that may be playing a vital role in our survival on earth. Loss of what we can’t readily see may be the end of us.
He suggests that a society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy. Surely, extinction of life forms has always occurred, but not at the rapid rate of today. Some of that destruction is caused by poor people putting great pressure on resources and habitat for their own survival. He believes that there is an ethical dimension to preserving biodiversity and that we must solve world poverty. More modest consumption by the rich would also help.
Lecture at Michigan State University, October 22, 2007