Renowned scientist E.O. Wilson delivers a plea for a new human ethic based on a wiser, more careful stewardship of our vanishing natural world while sharing his optimism that we still have an opportunity to save the living things and wild places that sustain us.
Hailed as "Darwin's Natural Heir" and one of "America's 25 Most Influential People" by TIME Magazine, Dr. Wilson is a self-professed "tree hugger."
Michael Krasny, Ph.D., is host of KQED’s award-winning Forum, a news and public affairs program that concentrates on the arts, culture, health, business, and technology. Forum is one of KQED’s most-popular shows and the nation’s most-listened-to locally produced public radio talk show. Before coming to KQED Public Radio in 1993, Dr. Krasny hosted a night-time talk program for KGO Radio and co-anchored the weekly KGO television show Nightfocus. He hosted Bay TV’s Take Issue, a nightly news analysis show, programs for KQED Public Television, KRON television, and NPR, and did news commentary for KTVU television. He has also served as host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Since 1970, he has been a professor of English at San Francisco State University and has taught at Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life, coauthor of the textbook Sound Ideas, and creator of the DVD presentation “Masterpieces of Short Fiction.” He is a widely published scholar and literary critic, a fiction writer, and a guest and frequent interviewer on the City Arts & Lectures stage. He has worked widely as a facilitator and host in the corporate sector and as moderator for a host of major nonprofit events. Dr. Krasny has interviewed many of the leading newsmakers and cultural icons of our time, including former President Jimmy Carter, Cesar Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Francis Ford Coppola, Don DeLillo, Newt Gingrich, Vice President Al Gore, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, President Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Redford, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Updike, and countless others.
E. O. Wilson
Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929) is an American biologist (Myrmecology, a branch of entomology), researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), and naturalist (conservationism).
Wilson is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his scientific humanist ideas concerned with religious, moral, and ethical matters. As of 2007, he was the Pellegrino Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.
I don't agree with Wilson on GMOs at all. There's absolutely no need for them whatsoever and the genetic disaster that could result is far too great of a risk to take even if they COULD produce benefits (though there is no evidence that they do have benefits).
We have thousands of varieties of crops. For example, there's 4000 varieties of potatoes. Introducing GMOs would contaminate these heirloom varieties-- varieties that were created for specific reasons such as low water consumption, low nutrient needs, etc.
Additionally, we have enough food right now to feed the entire starving world, but instead of eating the grain and legumes we grow, we feed a vast amount of it to livestock. Any ecologist worth his weight in salt knows the inefficiency and energy loss as you go up the food chain... Michael Pollan talks about this, but sadly, Wilson doesn't. I was pretty much agreeing whole-heartedly with Wilson until the last 10 minutes or so of this video.
manyhats, the biological terms are biotic and abiotic. We certainly see ourselves as apart from the physical (abioitic) environment, but Wilson also points out that we see ourselves as apart from the living (biotic) environment, too. We think that plant and animal biodiversity is just something to admire and isn't really important to our survival and wellbeing-- that we've somehow transcended ecology. This is easily seen in that in our common language, we refer to "humans and animals." This is like saying cars and automobiles-- cars ARE automobiles, and we ARE animals.
Similarly, it's often popular opinion that we are "more evolved" than other animals and inherently worth more. This isn't true (well, I suppose inherent value isn't a concrete idea and could be deabted), but there is no such thing as "more" or "less" evolved. Evolution isn't linear. But hell, we can't even get a lot of people to stop saying evolution is the devil, etc. While I also hope that the connection will be made in our lifetime, it's going to be an uphill struggle.
"If you save the living environment you will automatically save the physical environment too. But if you save only the physical environment, you will ultimately lose them both."
Interesting- I've never heard the distinction between the "physical"- climate change, pollution, resource depletion, and the "living" environments. Meaning that we the living still think of ourselves as independent from the physical. I guess this is the answer to why when we take 6 paper towels to dry our hands, only use otwo, crunch the rest up and throw them away, we don't think about a tree falling.
Hopefully in my lifetime the connection will be made.