i was lucky enough to get the chance to see his talk at the UI tonight. if i find a link to an online source of the lecture or a transcript, i’ll post it here.
to paraphrase in great, abstract, and potentially misleading swaths (sorry, i’m human and it’s 11:58 pm, which is clearly not the time for verbal precision):
1. it’s likely we can’t estimate within an order of magnitude the true number of species on this planet, which implies that the largest fraction has gone yet undiscovered. the interrelationships of these organisms and the unique genetic sequence of these species are important. it’s exquisitely organized and refined data, thus it’s likely valuable to us, and it’s out there…just waiting to be found.
2. looking for a career? how about mycology? no? then nematology? again, no? how about bacteriology? still, no? well, it doesn’t matter–just go get some sort of an education…because everything is interconnected anyways and we’re going to need all the talent we can muster to dig ourselves out of this pre-paradise activation energy hole we’ve found ourselves floundering in.
3. aliens almost certainly exist, but the ones who didn’t accidentally vaporize themselves with nuclear weapons probably just couldn’t be bothered to contact us; we’re simply not that important. this was in repsonse to a last-minute, off-the-hip question. hilarious!
4. (from the TED site) i heard this part as a plea to balance the demands for “saving the planet” versus “saving its living contents”:
Wilson believes, “The two major challenges for the 21st century are to improve the economic situation of the majority and save as much of the planet as we can.”