E.O. Wilson: My wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life-1

I have all my life wondered what “mind-boggling” meant. After two days here, I declare myself boggled, and enormously impressed, and feel that you are one of the great hopes — not just for American achievement in science and technology, but for the whole world. I’ve come, however, on a special mission on behalf of my constituency, which are the 10-to-the-18th-power — that’s a million trillion –insects and other small creatures, and to make a plea for them. If we were to wipe out insects alone, just that group alone, on this planet — which we are trying hard to do — the rest of life and humanity with it would mostly disappear from the land. And within a few months. Now, how did I come to this particular position of advocacy?

As a little boy, and through my teenage years, I became increasingly fascinated by the diversity of life. I had a butterfly period, a snake period, a bird period, a fish period, a cave period and finally and definitively, an ant period. By my college years, I was a devoted myrmecologist, a specialist on the biology of ants, but my attention and research continued to make journeys across the great variety of life on Earth in general — including all that it means to us as a species, how little we understand it and how pressing a danger that our activities have created for it.

Out of that broader study has emerged a concern and an ambition, crystallized in the wish that I’m about to make to you. My choice is the culmination of a lifetime commitment that began with growing up on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, on the Florida peninsula. As far back as I can remember, I was enchanted by the natural beauty of that region and the almost tropical exuberance of the plants and animals that grow there. One day when I was only seven years old and fishing, I pulled a “pinfish,” they’re called, with sharp dorsal spines, up too hard and fast, and I blinded myself in one eye. I later discovered I was also hard of hearing, possibly congenitally, in the upper registers. So in planning to be a professional naturalist — I never considered anything else in my entire life — I found that I was lousy at bird watching and couldn’t track frog calls either. So I turned to the teeming small creatures that can be held between the thumb and forefinger: the little things that compose the foundation of our ecosystems, the little things, as I like to say, who run the world. In so doing, I reached a frontier of biology so strange, so rich, that it seemed as though it exists on another planet. In fact, we live on a mostly unexplored planet. The great majority of organisms on Earth remain unknown to science.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!

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