Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This is from an interview in New Scientist with E. O. Wilson, an author with a PhD. in entomology, whose books include, 'Sociobiology', Biophilia, The Ants, Consilience and the latest, The Creation.

Q. If the love of nature is innate, why is nature in such crisis and why is it so difficult to communicate the importance of conservation?

A. You've put your finger on it. There appears to be a hierarchy of drives in humans. The biggest concern is always survival and reproduction, and protection of clan and family.
For most of human history, humans have had to struggle against nature to survive.
Then with the Neolithic revolution we learned how to break nature by cultivating plants, clearing land and building surpluses of resources and developing technologies. But along the way, there has been this deep connection to having a natural environment, even if it's just to exploit it.

It took a few thousand years of adoring gardens, loving exploring, expanding into unspoilt environments and so on to bring us up short with the recognition that we've gone too far.
We broke nature and now we're smashing it and getting rid of humanity's biggest heritage.

A full version of this interview can be downloaded from the podcast website

I think those three words, 'we broke nature' is exactly what is wrong with our world and now we have to fix it.


Andrew said...

I hope it is redeemable? I like the giae? theory.

janet said...

This was a nice summary you placed here, JT. Thanks. I will read the interview. I always liked EOWilson; whenever I've seen him interviewed I hoped he'd live forever to keep his eloquent way of stating things alive. What I mean is that he's one of the few outspoken superior scientists of our time who can speak at a popular level, much the way Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould did. Presidents should listen to people like this; they are the thinkers, or "priests" who have important large-scale messages for those whose heads are otherwise up their asse(t)s.

janet said...

I should add that Sir David Attenborough is another of the larger-than-life scientists who broght science into the mainstream. His enthusiasm and influence has been exemplary. Oh, I could go on and on about my great admiration for such people!

JahTeh said...

I like the feeling that earth is a living entity trying to heal the wounds we inflict on her. Did you feel the earthquake the other day?

Janet, Carl Sagan and his series on space and science was something I still remember and Stephen Jay Gould died much too soon. Gould loved Gary Larsen's cartoons so that makes him tops with me.