|Dr. Peter Raven|
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden
In recognition of his work in science and conservation, Dr. Raven is the recipient of numerous prizes. He also served for twelve years as home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the academies of science in Argentina, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the U.K., and several other countries. The author of numerous books and reports, both popular and scientific, Dr. Raven co-wrote "Biology of Plants," an internationally best-selling textbook, now in its sixth edition. He also co-authored "Environment," a leading textbook on the environment.
Tambopata River in the Peruvian Amazon
CE: What steps can governments, civil associations, and individuals take to respond to issues of biodiversity loss?
We must all think much more internationally than we do now. People can learn continuously, to keep their knowledge up to date, about what is happening to the biosphere and then act on what they come to understand. They can teach their children about biodiversity. Most children are very interested in plants and animals when they are young but they often move on to other considerations as they get older.
Especially disadvantaged are often women and children, who in many societies are not brought in to the power structures and given the opportunity to contribute what they could to our overall benefit. When you have more than one hundred million people worldwide at the edge of starvation at any given time, small changes to ecosystems have big impacts. Our consumption levels in the industrialized world, our expectation of an ever-growing prosperity, are increasing based on importing goods from countries less fortunate than ours, and will be even more so in the future if we continue on the present track.This is simply, in a Biblical sense, not taking care to the slightest degree of those less fortunate than ourselves.
CE: What has been your greatest joy in your work?