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our papers with references to the urgent biodiversity crisis while quietly opting out of the grittier work. (We do not excuse ourselves from this indictment.)

This phenomenon is the very definition of the Ivory Tower, but it need not apply here. It is up to us. We can maintain the status quo, which has not yet enabled us to stop or even slow biodiversity loss. Alternatively, we can go a few steps down from our cathedral by systematically rewarding (or even mandating) a certain tithe to society and incorporating it into our system for evaluating one another. Each institution seems free to make its own decision on this front. Major funding bodies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation, rightly insist that applicants explain both the intellectual importance and the “broader impacts” of their science. However, we suspect that scientists face more accountability to the former than to the latter. Closer scrutiny of the delivery of societal benefits promised from previous grants would likely prompt an increase in tithing.

Where Does Humanity Go from Here?

Where the human juggernaut goes from here will depend in many ways on where biodiversity goes. In this chapter we have tried to suggest one hopeful answer: from here, humanity goes to grips with biodiversity as a part of society that we accept, accommodate, need, use, pay for, puzzle over, admire, and enjoy. The alternative future is much uglier, but we still have time to reject it.


We thank the many contributors to the ideas summarized here. In particular, we are indebted to Hal Mooney, Dan Janzen, Winnie Hallwachs, Gretchen Daily, John Terborgh, Peter Raven, Todd Palmer, Jake Goheen, Josh Goldstein, Liba Pejchar, and Beth Pringle, whose thoughts and constructive comments permeate our review. We are grateful to Peter and Helen Bing, Larry Condon, Wren Wirth, the late LuEsther T. Mertz, the Heinz Family Philanthropies, the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa, the Sherwood Family Foundation, and the U.S. National Science Foundation, whose generous support has enabled us to contemplate these issues.

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