There is hope here: Online sales have helped to revitalize classical music (Kozinn, 2006), which is like biodiversity in that its devotees have long been predicting and lamenting its demise.
Some have argued that the key to widespread biodiversity appreciation is the ability to know immediately what is what in nature. Janzen (Janzen, 2004a) believes that this requires a comprehensive library of DNA barcodes (Janzen et al., 2005) along with a handheld, nanotechnological, field-portable sequencing device. We are hopeful about this dream, as well as any other means of achieving the same end.
Profound social transformations are not impossible or “unrealistic.” Shifts happen. They have happened in our lifetimes. We all know these terms: segregation, Iron Curtain, apartheid. “Anthropogenic extinction” belongs on that list. More than anything else, the long-term future of biodiversity will be determined by our success or failure in helping to precipitate such an overhaul in popular perceptions of nature and what it means.
A substantial amount of biodiversity—enough to preserve many functional ecosystems and to satisfy the desire felt by many to coexist with our only known living companions in the universe—can be saved via the pluralistic deployment of the seven sets of actions that are discussed above and that have been discussed for years in countless other corners of academia.
The subheadings sound ambitious, but the actions they comprise are demonstrably doable. As with the atmospheric “stabilization wedges” of Pacala and Socolow (2004), each of the strategies above has passed beyond the laboratory bench and demonstration phase, but none has yet been implemented on a large-enough scale or in conjunction with enough of the others. Part of the reason for this shortfall is that most of us in the academic community who are familiar with all of these ideas do not see implementing them as part of our job description.
Academic ecological papers are often tinseled with one or two sentences about the applied significance of the science (Marris, 2007), which accomplishes little. The selective pressures of academia, as currently set up, promote this practice by insisting on work that is at once scientifically transformative and socially beneficial. Yet many of the most useful things that we can do for biodiversity—like talking to kindergartners—are not at the cutting edge of science. Thus, we are implicitly encouraged to deck