in this bit e. o. wilson seems less than hopeful: ‘no awe there. only defeat and decay. i think that the ultimate irony of organic evolution is that in the instant of achieving self-understanding through the mind of man [sic], life has doomed its most beautiful creations’ (‘storm over the amazon’ in the nature reader, 172). in The Diversity of Life (1992), he warns that
humanity coevolved with the rest of life on this particular planet; other worlds are not in our genes. Because scientists have yet to put names on most kinds of organisms, and because they entertain only a vague idea of how ecosystems work, it is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself. Field studies show that as biodiversity is reduced, so is the quality of the services provided by ecosystems. Records of stressed ecosystems also demonstrate that the descent can be unpredictably abrupt. As extinction spreads, some of the lost forms prove to be keystone species, whose disappearance brings down other species and triggers a ripple effect. The loss of a keystone species is like a drill accidentally striking a power line. It causes lights to go out all over.
pretty grim, eh? small comfort that life is tenacious, and the future is both long and unknown. extinction, sooner or later; ironic, perhaps