Read L'Avenir de la vie by Edward O. Wilson Free Online
Book Title: L'Avenir de la vie|
The author of the book: Edward O. Wilson
Date of issue: February 5th 2003
Loaded: 2852 times
Reader ratings: 4.5
ISBN 13: 9782020549424
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.29 MB
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Skip the overwrought introduction if it turns you off. The motivational parts are a little weak. The rest of the book is fascinating and enlightening.
His major theses:
- The only way to preserve the remaining species on earth is to protect large contiguous areas of habitat.
- The wilderness is worth protecting, both economically and morally.
- With a small change in priorities, most of the remaining species can be protected at a reasonable cost.
Here are the most interesting facts I picked up from reading it.
- The number of unique species that a preserve can support is proportional to the 4th root of its area, so isolated parks don’t accomplish very much.
- Species in general cannot be preserved outside of their habitat, and habitat loss is the dominant reason for extinction. The relationship between a species and its environment is incredibly complicated and indirect. It requires decades of study per species to uncover the precise set of conditions that would be required for it to survive in captivity, or even to decide what aspects of its habitat should be prioritized to protect. For instance, the Vancouver Island Marmot lives only on the tops of mountains, but if you clear the valleys between those mountains, the marmots die.
- Vegetation causes rain. When there is more plant cover, more rain is absorbed and re-emitted cyclically so the amount of atmospheric water increases. Half of the water in the amazon comes from the plants in the amazon itself. Clearing away tropical land changes its climate to be semi-arid, and causes the collapse of nearby areas. As land is cleared the entire climate of the region can collapse. There is some evidence that this is already happening in Borneo.
- The profit margin of timber companies on tropical lands is so small that they can typically be outbid by non profits for logging rights at a rate of a few dollars per acre. In 1998, The Nature Conservancy doubled the size of Bolivia’s Noel Kempff Mercado national park, buying the logging rights of 1.6 million acres at $1 an acre. Conservation International uses the same strategy. I’ve donated to The Nature Conservancy for years, but I’m even more impressed with them after reading this book.
- In the mid 90s, scientists discovered a new large mammal species in the mountains between Laos and Vietnam, so unique that it has its own genus. It is called a saola, and is probably already extinct.
- $28 Billion is enough to secure at least a representative sample of earth’s ecosystems. The current total of all government and private funds allotted for conservation is $6 billion.
- 85% of our antibiotics come from ascomycetes fungi, but likely less than 10% of ascomycetes species have been discovered.
- A new treatment for HIV was discovered during routine screenings from the leaves of a tree in borneo. When they returned to the site where it was found, there were no more of the species left. Finally the last few members were uncovered in the Singapore Botanic Garden.
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Read information about the authorEdward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, a branch of entomology. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Wilson is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his secular-humanist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters. He is Pellegrino University 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.
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