Edward O. Wilson

  • Aired:  05/05/14
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"A Window on Eternity" author Edward O. Wilson explains why he chose to study ants and describes the uniquely rich biodiversity of Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park. (5:56)

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY,MY GUEST EDWARD O WILSON IS

A BIOLOGIST WHO SAYS HUMANSHAVE A LOT TO LEARN FROM ANTS.

THAT'S WHY I NEVER LET ANYONESTAND OVER ME WITH A MAGNIFYING

GLASS. PLEASE WELCOME EO WILSON.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)HEY, HOW ARE YOU DOING,

DR. WILSON.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING ON.

FOR THE FEW OUT THERE WHODON'T KNOW YOU ARE ONE OF

THE WORLD'S LEADINGAUTHORITIES ON ANTS.

AND OTHER ELEMENTS OFBIODIVERSITY BUT YOU ARE THE

ANT MAN, RIGHT.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE THE ANTMAN.

60 YEARS IN THE FIELD, YOUCREATED TWO SCIENTIFIC

DISCIPLINES.

YOU RECEIVED TWO PULITZER,HAVE WRITTEN 30 BOOKS AND

YOUR LATEST IS CALLED AWINDOW ON ETERNITY, A

BIOLOGIST'S WALK THROUGH GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK.

WE WILL GET TO THE BOOK INJUST ONE SECOND.

WHY ANTS?

WHY DO WE-- WHY DOYOU-- WHY-- DID THE QUEEN

SQUIRT SOME PHEROMONES ONYOU OR SOMETHING.

WHY DID YOU TURN INTO ADRONE FOR ANTS?

>> WHY NOT ANTS?

THEY'RE THE MOST ABUNDANTCREATURES ON EARTH OF

INSECTS.

>> Stephen: THE MOST ABUNDANTCREATURES ON EARTH.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: A LOT OF CHINESEPEOPLE--

(LAUGHTER)>> THERE ARE.

>> Stephen: THERE ARE A LOTOF CHINESE PEOPLE.

>> ANTS TAKEN ALL TOGETHERWEIGH ABOUT AS MUCH AS ALL

THE HUMANS TAKEN TOGETHER.

>> Stephen: SO IT'S A FAIRFIGHT.

>> IT.

(LAUGHTER)>> Stephen: A FAIR FIGHT.

>> YEAH, IT IS.

>> Stephen: WHAT DREW YOU TOANTS.

WERE YOU A CHILD WHEN YOUWERE FIRST DRAWN TO THEM.

>> YEAH, I BEGAN I GUESS ASA CHILD.

>> Stephen: WE ALL DO.

>> AND I STARTED GETTINGINTERESTED IN NATURAL

HISTORY WHEN I WAS A KID.

I WENT THROUGH THE BOYSCOUTS.

I LOOKED AROUND AND I SAIDWHAT CAN I DO THAT'S NEW

IN THE WORLD, AND MIGHTGIVE ME A CAREER SO I CHOSE

ANTS.

WHAT MORE I CAN SAY?

(LAUGHTER)>> Stephen: OKAY, ALL RIGHT.

SO NOW THE BOOK ITSELF AWINDOW ON ETERNITY,

WHAT IS GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK?WHERE IS THAT?

>> IN MOZAMBIQUE CLOSE TOTHE ZIMBABWE BORDER.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

AND SO YOU WALKED THROUGHIT.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

WELL, THANK YOU FOR DOINGTHAT.

SO I DON'T HAVE TO.

I'M NOT A HUGE NATUREFAN I DON'T GO FOR A LOT

OF WALKS.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROMWALKING THROUGH A NATIONAL

PARK, NOT AMERICA'S NATIONALPARK, WE'VE GOT THE BEST

NATURAL PARKS, DON'T WE?

>> WE DO.

>> Stephen: WE DO HAVE THEBEST NATIONAL PARKS.

>> WE DO.

AND WE OUGHT TO BE VERYPROUD OF THAT AND TAKE

BETTER CARE OF THEM, IN MYOPINION.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)>> Stephen: WE SHOULD.

>> BUT TO GET BACK, YES, TOANSWER YOUR QUESTION, YOU

KNOW, THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNTOF BIODIVERSITY, VARIETY OF

SPECIES IN A PARK LIKE THEONE IN AFRICA THAT HAVEN'T

BEEN STUDIED AT ALL AND YOUCAN BE A REAL EXPLORER.

A YOUNG SCIENTIST CAN GO TOA PARK LIKE THAT IN AFRICA

AND DISCOVER ALL SORTS OFNEW BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENON

AND NEW SPECIES AND SO ON.

IT'S A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY.

>> Stephen: NOW THIS PARKRECOVERED AFTER A WAR IN

MOZAMBIQUE.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: IS IT DANGEROUSTO WALK THROUGH THERE, ARE

THERE LANDMINES, UNSPENTSHELLS.

>> NOT THAT I HAVEDISCOVERED, FORTUNATELY.

(LAUGHTER)>> Stephen: YOU MAKE THE

ARGUMENT THAT HALF OF THEWORLD'S LAND SHOULD BE SET

ASIDE FOR NATURAL PRESERVESLIKE THIS.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: OKAY, BUT WENEED THAT LAND.

>> WE NEED IT.

>> Stephen: WHAT IF THERE ISOIL THERE?

>> I DON'T KNOW.

SOLAR.

>> Stephen: SOLAR?

>> YEAH, WELL, ANYWAY, YEAH.

>> Stephen: WHY WOULD WE DOTHAT?

WHY WOULD YOU SET ASIDE HALFTHE WORLD'S LAND.

GOD GAVE US THE EARTH TO BEOUR DOMINION, TO EXPLOIT THE

WAY WE NEEDED TO FOR HISGREATER GLORY.

YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE ME THATONE.

>> THAT IS NOT THE WAY IREAD THE BIBLE.

>> Stephen: I THINK YOU NEEDTO REREAD IT.

TRY SHOUTING THE BIBLE.

>> WE SHOULD, REMEMBERGENESIS, BRING FORTH THE

COUNTLESS CREATURES TO SWIMIN THE SEA AND BIRDS TO

CROSS THE VAULT OF HEAVEN.

HE WANTS BIODIVERSITY.

>> Stephen: GOD WANTSBIODIVERSITY.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: BUT HE KILLEDOFF A FEW THINGS.

HE HAS, IN THE PERMIAN,90% OF ALL LIFE DIED.

>> THAT HAPPENS ONCE IN AHUNDRED MILLION YEARS,

ROUGHLY.

>> Stephen: MAYBE WE ARE UPFOR ANOTHER ONE.

>> MAYBE.

WE'RE NOT UP FOR ANOTHER ONE,WE ARE THE OTHER ONE.

>> Stephen: WAIT A MINUTE.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: WE'RE DOING THEEXTINCTION OR WE

WILL BE EXTINCT.

>> MAYBE BOTH.

ANYWAY,-- .

>> Stephen: YOU JUST GLIDEDRIGHT BY MANKIND'S EXTINCTION

BUT AS LONG AS YOUR PRECIOUSANTS SURVIVE, THAT'S OKAY.

>> YOU KNOW, AN EXPERIMENTWAS MADE IN BROOKHAVEN

NATIONAL LABORATORY IN WHICHORGANISMS WERE EXPOSED TO

INTENSE RADIATION DAY AFTERDAY.

AND ALL THE CREATURES THATWERE IN THIS COMPOUND DIED

AWAY AND FINALLY THE PLANTSWILTED DOWN AND GUESS WHAT

CAME CRAWLING OUT OF THEIRNEST AND KEPT CRAWLING

AROUND.

ANTS.

>> Stephen: I FOR ONEWELCOME OUR NEW ANT

OVERLORDS.

AND I THANK YOU EO WILSONFOR BEING HERE.

THE BOOK IS A WINDOW ONETERNITY.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)>> Stephen: THANK YOU, SIR.

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