The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson

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In The Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson reflects on how the living world became diverse and how humans are destroying that diversity. In the book’s preface, Wilson defines biodiversity as “the totality of inherited variation in all organisms in a selected area” (Wilson ix). He adds that modern technology will allow for us to find many new species that were previously unknown to be in existence. The first section of the book is titled “Violent Nature, Resilient Life.” In the beginning of this section, Wilson recalls one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest, during which an electric thunderstorm in the middle of the night created an incredible display of biodiversity. He says that he has kept going back to this area for almost…show more content…
“The Human Impact” is the final section of Wilson’s book. According to Wilson, humans are causing more species to die (habitat destruction, etc.), but are at the same time leading to the discovery/creation of many species, thus somewhat offsetting the issue. The biggest issue that humans present to biodiversity is habitat disruption. Many species are losing their homes and breeding grounds thanks to humans. He adds that by decreasing species populations, many animals are forced to inbreed, which is very bad for the overall genetic makeup of the species. Also, small population size leads to genetic drift, which vastly alters the frequency of certain traits. Wilson then makes the interesting point that we cannot fully assess the damage the humans have done to biodiversity, as we do not know how much biodiversity truly exists. He goes on to discuss specific areas with growing human impact on the environment, from Madagascar to the Himalayas to Australia. Among Wilson’s highest concerns is the destruction or coral reefs, which contain vast amounts of marine diversity. In the past, these reefs have been able to recover from disruptions, but the human impact is so large that many of them are simply dying off. He then goes on to talk about climate change. Above all, he thinks that this is a major issue because it will put species in environments to which they are not adapted. Another area of his
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