River talk

Goodbye and good guidance

By SANDY LONG
Posted 1/5/22

For the better part of a century, we have been graced with the existence of an impactful individual who recently departed this realm, leaving a legacy of powerful writing born of keen observation and …

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River talk

Goodbye and good guidance

Posted

For the better part of a century, we have been graced with the existence of an impactful individual who recently departed this realm, leaving a legacy of powerful writing born of keen observation and deep thinking.

Edward Osborne (E.O.) Wilson was a leading American scientist, naturalist, author and teacher who died on December 26 at the age of 92. Wilson was often referred to as the father of sociobiology and of biodiversity and was called the Darwin of the 21st century.

His exploration of the natural world, and of ants in particular (his biological focus was myrmecology), led to the emergence of the scientific field of sociobiology.

As described on Wikipedia, Wilson drew upon sociobiology and evolutionary principles to explain the behavior of social insects and then to understand the social behavior of other animals, including humans. He received more than 150 prestigious awards, more than 40 honorary doctorates, and twice earned the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for “On Human Nature” and for “The Ants.”

Deep concern over the increasing loss of biodiversity was a primary message in Wilson’s work. “The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats,” he wrote. “This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”

Wilson likened the destruction of a rainforest for economic gain to burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.

Visit the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation website at https://eowilsonfoundation.org to learn more about Wilson’s conservation legacy.

Visit the Encyclopedia of Life website, hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and dedicated to Wilson, which documents more than a million living species at https://eol.org.

In addition to his ground-breaking research and writings, Wilson leaves us with some life wisdom worth contemplating: “You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.”

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