Tuesday, September 14, 2010

E. O. Wilson's "The Creation", An Appeal to Save Life on Earth

My wife recommended this book to me, and I am very glad she did. It’s become a valuable part of my library. Were it not for her, I would have missed it … and been the poorer for it.

Edward O. Wilson, long time professor of biology at Harvard University, is one of the world’s most respected biologists. The study of biology, he maintains, clearly shows that every living system on this planet is intricately interconnected, and that is why it is so crucial that we understand how our behavior affects the world we live in and owe our mortality to. “The fate of Creation is the fate of humanity.” Miss this, and we destroy our future. Seen from the perspective of biological science, the evidence is indisputable.

Humanity has left an enormous footprint on the Earth, and it has not been a benign or healthy one. Our history has been one of altering our environment without the slightest regard for what that does to it in the long run, then moving on because we have so depleted our natural resources that we have made where we live unlivable. But we are running out of time. The footprint our species has left on this Earth is about to push its systems beyond the point of tolerance

“The human hammer having fallen, the sixth mass extinction has begun… “Humanity must make a decision, and make it right now: conserve Earth’s natural heritage, or let future generations adjust to a biologically impoverished world. There is no way to weasel out of this choice” (page 91). In example after example from biology, he presents solid evidence to support his position. “[E]cosystems and species can be saved only by understanding the unique value of each species in turn, and by persuading the people who have dominion over them to serve as their stewards” (page 92).

“If there is any moral precept shared by people of all beliefs,” he writes, “it is that we owe ourselves and future generations a beautiful, rich, and healthful environment” (page 5).

In my review of Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization I wrote that Wilson’s book is a good book to read alongside it. If you have Rifkin’s book, pick up a copy of E. O. Wilson’s book and consult it as you read.

E. O. Wilson: The Creation, W. W. Norton, 2006. Subtitle: “An Appeal to Save Life on Earth”

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