A slower kind of bang
- The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson
Allen Lane, 424 pp, £22.50, February 1993, ISBN 0 7139 9094 5
I have a friend, a fellow biologist, who lives in California. He once wrote (only half-jokingly) to the Sierra Club suggesting that to reach their conservationist goal they should change their rules. The first statute ought to oblige all members of the club never to go into the wilderness again, and to devote their time to persuading as many other people as possible to stay at home. By so doing they would preserve nature more effectively than could any conceivable Green initiative.
Vol. 15 No. 11 · 10 June 1993
From Robin Nicholson
In his review of E.O. Wilson’s book The Diversity of Life, Steve Jones (LRB, 22 April) comments on the strangely large number of cichlid fish species in Lake Victoria. He appears to dismiss what he calls the conventional explanation that they arose in a multiplicity of small lakes left when the major body dried up. Perhaps it would be wise here to recall the now well-founded proposition that some 5 to 6 million years ago the Mediterranean basin was a salt desert some 3000m below sea level. The data was established by the Deep Sea Drilling Programme. Have comparable investigations been attempted in Lake Victoria? The discovery of the drying out of the Mediterranean allowed biologists to understand why the land plants and freshwater faunas of its islands seemed to have dispersed from a common origin within it.