What are we going to do about this?

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Oct 21 10:10:26 CDT 1996

> Date:         Mon, 21 Oct 1996 11:55:57 -0400
> From: "James H. Beach" <jbeach at NSF.GOV>
> 1. What are some truly salational steps that could be taken to accelerate
> the initial biodiversity survey of the planet and the rapid development of
> the initial classifications and phylogenies for incompletely studied
> groups?

I thought that DJ's high profile INBio and later ATBI efforts were two
of those saltatorial and salutary leaps of faith. That level of
imaginative and bold stepping is what is needed, but it can't be
one/few persons, one/two times, one place, once only. It needs to
be replicated many times, and even new giant ideas need to be forthcoming.

> 2. How do systematists convince society that their research problem is
> relevant and thereby obtain more financial resources?

Take over the media; take over politics. (Did anyone hear the
"representative cross section of the American (US) voting citizenry"
ask even one question about environment during the last "great" debate?
Did the E word even get uttered in some positive, interesting context
by either candidate? Did anyone hear the commentators on Sunday's
Meet the Press state that the American (US) public is so totally
unexcited about the upcoming elections because there is no serious
issue to mobilize them, and so they're just going to let democracy
roll on, doing its fine job, business as usual!! So much for concern
for the environment.)

> 3. How does society convince systematists that they should do relevant
> research and thereby feel the investment is worthwhile?

Systematists don't need to be convinced. The people who would get
excited about the promise of life on Mars and would direct all
the additional funding that systematics needs for the next two decades
to seeking out that life, need to be staked down and anointed with honey.

Geez, Jim. Your questions are so easy ;>)

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