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Environmental activist E.O. Wilson speaks at Kingsbury Hall (SLC) on WEDNESDAY

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Stefanos Folias, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. We've got the whole world in our hands Environmental activist E.O. Wilson speaks at Kingsbury Hall on WEDNESDAY By Susan Whitney Deseret Morning News

    Biologist E.O. Wilson — the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for books on nature, winner of numerous conservation awards, one of the country's most well-known environmental activists — comes to Salt Lake City next week. He will bring three simple messages:

    Edward O. Wilson says mankind faces unique environmental problems. (Jon Chase, Harvard News Office) Jon Chase, Harvard News Office Edward O. Wilson says mankind faces unique environmental problems.

    • We live on a little-known planet.

    • Vital ecosystems are disappearing because of overuse by humans.

    • It will not be terribly expensive to fix this problem.

    Wilson speaks Wednesday evening to a sold-out house at Kingsbury Hall. He spoke to the Deseret Morning News earlier this week by telephone from his home in Massachusetts. When he comes to Utah, Wilson said, he'll be talking about what he talks about everywhere he goes. "We are faced with historically unique environmental problems — and great opportunities. Opportunities not just for the saving of our base, our survival base, but also in terms of our economic security." When we stop the extinction currently going on in the natural world, then we secure our own futures, he said. It is a point he made in his 2005 book, "The Future of Life" (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.50) — nature has provided us with clean water and air and a complex and perfect biosphere and, in the long term, our economies will not be strong enough to replace what we are destroying. Even as he spoke about the perils, Wilson sounded guardedly optimistic. He just returned from a board meeting of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City, where he met with scientists and economists who are working on the twin problems of world poverty and degradation of natural resources. Wilson, 77, retired from teaching at Harvard about 10 years ago, he said. He now spends half his time doing research and writing and the other half traveling to speaking engagements and board meetings. He works seven days a week. The endangered dwarf bearclaw poppy. The endangered dwarf bearclaw poppy. Wilson was born in Alabama. He spend a good portion of his boyhood wandering through fields, looking at stuff. He became a professor at Harvard and first found fame with his study of ants, during which he discovered pheromones. In the 1960s, he was the first to talk about wildlife corridors. In the 1980s, he coined the term "biophilia" to describe what he believes is the innate human attraction to living things. Wilson is also credited with starting the "bioblizt," a 24-hour inventory of all the plants and animals in a certain area. He's written 20 books. "On Human Nature" and "The Ants" won Pulitzers. Others have also been best sellers. Wilson is still remembered for being at the center of a nature/ nurture controversy in the 1970s with the publication of his book, "Sociobiology," when he wrote about the genetic component of human behavior. Critics called him racist, compared him to a Nazi. Today sociobiology is an accepted field of study. On the telephone, Wilson couldn't keep the wonder from his voice when he spoke of the discoveries still left to be made. "We may know less than 10 percent of species of organisms on Earth," he said. There are probably hundreds of millions of micro- organisms still to be discovered, hundreds of thousands of invertebrates. Studying them as fast as we can must be one of our priorities, he said. In his latest book, "The Creation" (W.W. Norton & Co., $21.95), Wilson notes that climate change alone, if left unabated, will be the primary cause of extinction of a quarter of the species of plants and animals on land by the middle of this century. Since 1973, when Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, the United States has lost more than 100 species, leading the world in the number of species lost in any one country. But Wilson is not about to give up on conservation. And not just local, but global conservation. He told the Deseret Morning News, "We are talking about a relatively inexpensive series of programs. That is what people should focus on." Leroy Bell enjoys a morning walk at the Nature Conservancy's Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. (Deseret Morning News archives) Deseret Morning News archives Leroy Bell enjoys a morning walk at the Nature Conservancy's Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. He explained, "We find that half the endangered species in the world are concentrated in about 2.3 percent of the land. In the so- called 'hot spots' from Madagascar to the Hawaiian rain forests to the Brazilian forests ... the wildernesses of the Amazon and other core areas." The cost to protect all these areas as bio-reserves would be $50 billion, he estimates. In the end, Wilson thinks the fair and moral thing to do would be to leave 50 percent of the world as natural and live in the other 50 percent. "We should not be intimidated by the immensity of the environmental problems," he added. "We simply have to get into the mind-set." The countries that are first to go "green" will have the greatest economic advantages, he added. Manufacturing alternative fuels and manufacturing cars powered by alternative fuels will stimulate the economy, he believes. He talked enthusiastically about new technologies, including the research on how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it in the depths of the ocean. Wilson's lecture in Utah is a kick-off for a series of lectures sponsored by the Utah Museum of Natural History, a series called "The Nature of Things." Wilson's visit is co-sponsored by the Utah chapter of the Nature Conservancy, among others. Dave Livermoore, head of the local Nature Conservancy, worked with Wilson 20 years ago at Harvard University. Livermoore credits Wilson with teaching scientists how to work more closely with religious leaders and scholars from the humanities. Utah is an especially sensitive state, Livermoore noted. "We are fifth in the nation of number of species and natural communities which are rare and unique." And, he said, we are losing 15,000 acres of open space every year. The Nature Conservancy's "Living Lands and Waters" is a major effort to target and protect Utah's most sensitive watersheds and wildlife corridors. Photo Livermoore said Wilson will not be here just to sound the alarm, but to talk about the steps that must be taken and to explain the biosphere and the economics of conservation in terms a layman can understand.

    If you go

    What: "The Future of Life," a lecture by E.O. Wilson Where: Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah When: Wednesday, 7 p.m. How much: $10 (the lecture is sold out, but a few tickets may become available) Phone: 581-7100 Web: or Also: The lecture will be broadcast live on KCPW radio, 88.3 FM or 1010 AM

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