[Taxacom] eol in NYT

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Sep 6 23:27:55 CDT 2007

Professor Wilson's OpEd piece in the New York Times is well-intentioned
but there's a logical hole in it.

He gets the reader worried by ringing the usual bells, like
"Human-caused climate change alone could eliminate a quarter of species
during the next five decades" and "What will we and future generations
lose if a large part of the living environment continues to disappear?"

Next, he claims that "[EOL] should make it possible to discover the
remaining 90 percent of species in far less than 250 years, perhaps only
one-tenth that time, a single human generation", and that "[EOL] will
accelerate the discovery of the unknown species".

Excuse me? How does compiling information about known species make it
more likely that unknown biodiversity gets discovered? How does sitting
in an office playing with bioinformatics tell you anything about life
you haven't found yet, out there in nature? How exactly does funding for
EOL translate into funding for fieldwork?

More importantly, how would EOL shift survey and sampling priorities to
those places where biodiversity is disappearing fastest?

Nice promotional piece, but it doesn't help the worldwide biodiversity
salvage effort, still in its infancy. 
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

Australian millipedes checklist
Tasmanian multipedes
Spatial data basics for Tasmania
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