News and Notes

Inspiring a New Generation to Fight for Biodiversity

E.O. Wilson has been enlightening all of us with his scientific work and eloquent writings for decades. At 90, he continues to publish actionable works that push boundaries and enhance our understanding of the world.

Following on his 2016 publication, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life—which calls for conserving and managing half the Earth’s lands and seas to provide sufficient habitat for species to thrive—this year Wilson will publish a book (tentatively titled, “Ecosystems: The Harmony of Nature”) on ecosystems and how they function, and call for a new scientific discipline devoted to ecosystem research.

“We need an ecosystems science,” Wilson said during Half-Earth Day 2019, calling on young scholars to consider this career path. “We know that ecosystems, which are really what we trying to protect, not just single species but ensembles of species that have come together and have reached the ability—sometimes over thousands or even in some places millions of years—have formed ecosystems that equilibrate. And we don’t know really how equilibration comes about.”

Even before publication, Wilson’s book on ecosystems is already attracting anticipation, selected by Rohan Silva of the Evening Standard as one of three books he predicts will “truly have the potential to change the world in 2020.” The other two upcoming titles Silva selected were President Obama’s memoirs and Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works.

“Half-Earth introduced the radical necessary policy goal of setting aside roughly half of the world’s surface area” to conserve biodiversity, Silva said. Wilson’s new book addressing “the dizzyingly complex interaction of species in the natural world, and the terrifying prospect of losing these beautiful habitats forever,” has the potential to make a real impact on the way we understand the living world, and how to protect it.

“If you want to go into science,” Wilson said to his young audience members, “please consider going into the coming development of a new biological science, one of the next big things, which is ecosystem studies.”

As Silva said, “Here’s hoping he inspires a new generation to fight for biodiversity around the globe.”