E.O. Wilson: My wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life-5

The loss will inflict a heavy price in wealth, security and yes, spirituality for all time to come, because previous cataclysms of this kind — the last one, that ended the age of dinosaurs — took, normally, five to 10 million years to repair. Sadly, our knowledge of biodiversity is so incomplete that we are at risk of losing a great deal of it before it is even discovered. For example, even in the United States, the 200,000 species known currently actually has been found to be only partial in coverage; it is mostly unknown to us in basic biology. Only about 15 percent of the known species have been studied well enough to evaluate their status. Of the 15 percent evaluated, 20 percent are classified as “in peril,” that is, in danger of extinction. That’s in the United States. We are, in short, flying blind into our environmental future. We urgently need to change this. We need to have the biosphere properly explored so that we can understand and competently manage it. We need to settle down before we wreck the planet. And we need that knowledge.

This should be a big science project equivalent to the Human Genome Project. It should be thought of as a biological moonshot with a timetable. So this brings me to my wish for TEDsters, and to anyone else around the world who hears this talk. I wish we will work together to help create the key tools that we need to inspire preservation of Earth’s biodiversity. And let us call it the “Encyclopedia of Life.” What is the “Encyclopedia of Life?” A concept that has already taken hold and is beginning to spread and be looked at seriously? It is an encyclopedia that lives on the Internet and is contributed to by thousands of scientists around the world. Amateurs can do it also. It has an indefinitely expandable page for each species.

It makes all key information about life on Earth accessible to anyone, on demand, anywhere in the world.I’ve written about this idea before, and I know there are people in this room who have expended significant effort on it in the past. But what excites me is that since I first put forward this particular idea in that form, science has advanced. Technology has moved forward. Today, the practicalities of making such an encyclopedia, regardless of the magnitude of the information put into it, are within reach. Indeed, in the past year, a group of influential scientific institutions have begun mobilizing to realize this dream. I wish you would help them. Working together, we can make this real.

The encyclopedia will quickly pay for itself in practical applications. It will address transcendent qualities in the human consciousness, and sense of human need. It will transform the science of biology in ways of obvious benefit to humanity. And most of all, it can inspire a new generation of biologists to continue the quest that started, for me personally, 60 years ago: to search for life, to understand it and finally, above all, to preserve it. That is my wish. Thank you.


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!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: