Sunday, July 8, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life or Death?

I've just watched Bill Moyers Journal featuring an interview with Edward O. Wilson. I have several books by or about Wilson which I haven't read yet. From what I know, I share some of his opinions and disagree with others. He recognizes the destructive path we are on, but has what I consider a naive faith in human common sense even though he admits not understanding why we're doing comparatively nothing to get off that path.

One of the subjects he discussed was the upcoming website for the Encyclopedia of Life, which is intended to eventually have a page of information for every known species. If our species continues with its current trends of population and consumption (and no one I know believes we'll voluntarily change those trends) half of all species on the planet will be extinct in this century and a quarter of all mammals will be extinct in the next 30 years. Sounds like it could easily wind up being called an Encyclopedia of Death to me.

While this will be a great research tool for trivia and term papers, this kind of detached knowledge really teaches nothing about life. Spending an hour outside observing nature will teach you something more important than spending an hour watching Nature on TV or reading a blog about nature.

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