Re: a to-do list for the next century

From: Stewart Brand (
Date: Thu Mar 23 2000 - 11:40:09 MST

At 1:23 AM -0800 3/23/00, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
>Stewart, IMO, merely identifying all of the species would be
>relatively worthless.

So far, systematic biologists are saying the project is 1) doable, 2)
eminently worth doing. Bear in mind that proper species
identification involves collecting and keeping individuals and
tissue. (Getting all the microbial species is another matter---more
of a $5 billion matter to get even close to closure. There are 500
species of microbe in your mouth---37 new ones were identified just
the other week. Still, a $1 billion Biocensus can step up to the
beginning and value of microbial survey.)

A trend in recent field taxomony is training and employing LOCAL and
often native talent (in Madagascar, New Guinea, etc.) to do the field
science. This leads directly to local intellectual and community
investment in protecting endangered habitat. And research money goes
straight to the grass roots.

>The solution proposed was "no-knowledge" preservation.
>Go grab chunks of dirt, water, air, etc. from various
>shrinking environments and simply freeze them. Don't
>worry about the census of what is in the samples, let
>the future generations of scientists figure that out.

Also worth doing. And thoroughly complementary with biocensus
efforts. The advantage, greatly sought, of living biocensus is
learning the nature of relationship among species, which is partly
lost in frozen sampling---you get statistical but not dynamic data.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:06:12 MDT