“Biodiversity’ is a recent word – Edward O. Wilson used it in 1986 – and it is a somewhat difficult word, which interests few people, mainly those who study it. In fact, it should be everyone’s business, because it refers to life itself, from the smallest level (genes), to animal and plant species, to the most complex levels, the ecosystems’.
This is what we wrote at the end of the 1990s, when Slow Food began its journey to defend biodiversity, recognising from the very beginning entomologist Wilson as its initiator and cultural reference point.
So now that he has passed away, at the age of 92, we cannot fail to pay tribute to the man who changed the nature of our association and the lives of many of us. It is thanks to this man from Alabama, who spent his days observing ants and butterflies at the age of ten and went on to become one of the world’s foremost naturalists and writers, that we have come to understand the deeper meaning of the connections between all living things.
In ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’, Wilson wrote: ‘We have created a Star Wars civilisation, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and phenomenal technology (…) but humanity is by far the greatest achievement of life. On this planet we are solely responsible for our actions as a species, with all the reason and knowledge we can muster’.
With this clarity and conviction, Wilson held his faith for a better future fast to his final days, certain that in the end the greatest value of mankind must prevail: the will to know and cherish its birthplace, nature.
And we too cling tightly to his trust and – in his name – commit ourselves to devote all our energy to defending biodiversity, defying the most powerful laws of the global market and of prevailing capitalism to save even the most humble variety of bean, the smallest surviving flock of sheep and the millennia-old knowledge of communities, convinced that this is the only way to guarantee mankind’s future and beauty.
Thank you Edward O. Wilson.