E.O. Wilson was recently interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili on BBC’s radio show “The Life Scientific” and spoke passionately about the preservation of the planet’s biodiversity:
We are by instinct related closely to the survival of our distant ancestors by a driving need to strike nature as hard as we could, and to draw as much as we could from it. And we haven’t lost that at all. And now we come to a higher-level recognition that we struck too hard, and too far, and we are threatening the world that we first entered so aggressively and successfully in Africa.
And we somehow have got to pull back our instincts to exploit and subordinate and convert to our immediate welfare—because if we take too much more of the Earth’s biodiversity we render the biosphere unstable. And we could, in the worst of circumstances, reach a tipping point in which the whole thing collapses—and we with it.
Listen to the full interview below:
E.O. Wilson has been described as the “world’s most evolved biologist” and even as “the heir to Darwin”. He’s a passionate naturalist and an absolute world authority on ants. Over his long career he’s described 450 new species of ants.
Known to many as the founding father of sociobiology, E.O. Wilson is a big hitter in the world of evolutionary theory. But, recently he’s criticised what’s popularly known as The Selfish Gene theory of evolution that he once worked so hard to promote (and that now underpins the mainstream view on evolution).
A twice Pulitzer prize winning author of more than 20 books, he’s also an extremely active campaigner for the preservation of the planet’s biodiversity: he says, “destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal”.
About “The Life Scientific”
Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them and asking what their discoveries might do for humankind.
Jim Al-Khalili has presented The Life Scientific on Radio 4 since 2011. Although his “day job” is as an academic professor of physics at the University of Surrey, where he also has a chair in the public engagement in science, he has achieved wider prominence as a public scientist, author and broadcaster. He has fronted a number of radio and television documentaries, mainly on BBC4, including Chemistry: A Volatile History, which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2010.
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In no less awe of Dr Wilson’s accomplishments, I’m always struck by the idea of how decades of research, book authoring, award winning and the accumulation of numerous degrees can distill down to simply and silently placing ones self into his or her environment and.. watching. It’s the law of common sense. I remember the various species of ant colonies in my backyard as a child. I always observed (with some apprehension) as the how similar in endeavor each ant seemed to human activity as it carried out it specialized task. As I became progressively interested in artificial or machine intelligence in the 70’s, I found literature mostly attempted to model human cognition. The few works which I found and accepted were models of insects; specifically ant, bees and roach models which I believe will be prophetic in it’s application. I hold Dr. Wilson to be one of the human treasures which transcends race, borders and time. I only hope I can contribute a portion of the knowledge of the natural world as he has done.