Last evening, during Edward O. Wilson?s Baptist sermon-like address to an auditorium of 600 diverse faces at the American Museum of Natural History, the environment and its advocates got a bit of a pep talk. With the eminent naturalist?s signature articulacy, humor, and frankness (take "Soccer moms are the greatest enemy of natural history," or "It might have been a big mistake to give economics a Nobel Prize"), he took on the case for studying and preserving biodiversity. Ninety percent of the world?s species?that translates into tens of millions?may still be unknown, he declared. The "Linnaean pursuit" of cataloguing these species took a major hit when the molecular revolution captured scientists? imaginations, according to the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. And most would admit, the task of hauling new species into labs, and identifying and classifying them is not the sexiest of scientific pursuits. But "believe me," he countered, "it?s one...

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