Despite all the destruction of forests, pollution, overpopulation, and overfishing, Edward O. Wilson is optimistic about the future of life on Earth. Science, prudent actions, and moral courage are showing some signs of making a difference, says one of the world’s most influential naturalists, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and Pellegrino University Professor Emeritus at Harvard.
Wilson cited one encouraging sign. “In 1960, women on the planet gave birth to an average of six children each,” he told a group of Harvard alums celebrating their 50th reunion during the University’s June 8 Commencement celebration. “That number is down to three children today, and the trend is likely to accelerate.” He sees the 21st century as “the century of the environment,” a time when humans will celebrate and preserve biodiversity, or wreck life on Earth.
Wilson is working on recruiting another great force into the battle for life – religion. In a forthcoming book (“The Creation,” September 2006), he suggests that scientists “offer the hand of friendship” to religious leaders and build an alliance with them. “Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation,” believes Wilson, who was raised as a Baptist in Florida and Alabama. In November, scientists and evangelists will hold a conference that may start them across the existing cultural gap on a bridge of biodiversity.