The Race to Document Biodiversity
The most extraordinary aspect of biodiversity is the way in which every living thing on earth, everything that has ever lived on earth, is directly connected through time by an utterly unbroken sequence of reproductive events. It is possible to trace one’s ancestry back through one’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on, generation after generation after generation after generation, back through time. When we imagine our own family history, we tend to think in terms of a few centuries; but in fact, the pattern goes back much further. Not just a few thousand years, or even a few million years, but several billion years. On that scale of time, every organism that has ever lived is part of a shared family tree.
Biodiversity is earth’s greatest library, and we have not matured enough as a species, as a civilization, to realize it yet. Someday soon we will understand how to read the secrets contained within the Biodiversity Library. Unfortunately, we are on the brink of this planet’s sixth great extinction event, and each time a species goes extinct, it is like burning the last copy of a book. Once it is gone, the information it contained is lost forever. Earth’s greatest library is burning.