Those of us in Monterey this year watched in awe as E O Wilson unveiled his inspiring TED Prize wish to create an Encyclopedia of Life. (If you weren't there, you can see it at the link above). As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of his constituents, the insects and small creatures, to learn more about our biosphere. We know so little about nature, he says, that we're still discovering tiny organisms indispensable to life; yet we're still steadily destroying nature. Wilson identifies five grave threats to biodiversity (a term he coined), using the acronym HIPPO, and makes his TED wish: that we will work together on the Encyclopedia of Life, a web-based compendium of data from scientists and amateurs on every aspect of the biosphere.
In Washington DC this morning, the first big step in that dream came true. Five major scientific institutions, backed by a $50m funding commitment led by the MacArthur Foundation, announced the launch of a global effort to launch the Encyclopedia. Ed Wilson described today's announcement as a dream come true.