Credit: Bob Sascha
E.O. Wilson, the towering naturalist and Pulitzer-prize winning writer, hatched the idea for the Encyclopedia of Life in 2003 as a way of chronicling all of the world's species, Wikipedia-style. "How can you save things you don't even know are there?" he asked TreeHugger after delivering the keynote address at the Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC last week. Interestingly, he pointed out, saving things is a fundamental part of human existence, no better exemplified than by the impressive Goldman Prize winners that night. But, he added, "it's not easy being green, as Kermit the Frog says!" See the video below.
Wilson is the "father of biophilia," the idea that humans have an innate love for nature, in part because preserving biodiversity (a term that Wilson also coined) helps perpetuate our species. Though it remains a topic of some debate in evolutionary circles, it's a comforting theory, not least because it implies that taking care of the environment binds us all, despite political party or ideology. But it's a love that requires cultivation.
Here's what he told TreeHugger in our video:
Immediately, directly and fundamentally. As I was saying in my little speech, this is something people do naturally, particularly if they have a sense of ownership and they can be stewards and they have the power to do it. That's what's happening with these prize winning individuals.
Each one of them is asserting proprietorship over the land and the problems that they're facing. They take responsibility for it. They claim ownership so they can be sure it happens.
It's not easy being green, as Kermit the Frog says.
It's taking off, growing exponentially, very successful.
How can you save things you don't even know are there. How can you save the species of an ecosystem? It's like a doctor going in without knowing what the organs are.
More at TreeHugger
The Encyclopedia of Life Goes Live
EO Wilson and Elizabeth Kolbert in conversation
E.O. Wilson's The Creation Released Today
The EO WIlson Page
Encyclopedia of Earth: Like Wikipedia, for the Environment