such a great bearing on the human prospect. In that context, the impending extinction of perhaps one-fifth of the species of organisms within a quarter-century or two-thirds of the total within the next century is unacceptable, especially considering that we have even cataloged and named only about one-fourth of the total that we estimate exist.
Looking at the planet Earth from somewhere else, observers would find it impossible to believe that we have no common, well-organized international effort devoted to preserving our organisms. They would be incredulous at the thought that the rapidly shrinking 20% of us who live in industrialized countries have not long since joined hands with the people who live in developing countries, and by doing so created a collegial and mutually supporting economic situation within which it would be possible to save as complete as possible a selection of the world's biodiversity. The way we are behaving amounts to sheer madness, and we must find a way to stop it. Can we not find a way to do so?
As David Suzuki points out vividly, our response to the ecological crises we face is not appropriate, given the enormity of those crises; but we are facing thousands of ecological Pearl Harbors today, mostly without even noting them, much less making any effort to avert them. His powerful analogy presenting the state of the world's ecology as though we were all passengers in a huge car going as fast as possible toward a brick wall and just sort of chatting amiably as it speeds along, with most of the people in the world actually locked in the trunk: that's something to think about! At the very core of human existence, or of human prospects for the future, are the kinds of values that Jim Morton discusses in this forum. Why do we find them so hard to embrace and act on?
The situation that I have outlined briefly here, and that is discussed in a number of the papers in this volume, demands the reformulation of both philosophical systems and human actions around the principles of sustainability, with a proper appreciation of biodiversity at the heart of the matter.
Many responses are possible to the crises that are so well laid out in the papers included in this volume. It is clear that our knowledge of biodiversity is incompleteit is in no way adequate for the challenges that we face in trying to build a sustainable world. Even according to the conservative estimates presented by Bob May, we have named no more than one-fourth of the world's eukaryotic species, and the prokaryotic species are so poorly known that we cannot reasonably provide even an order-of-magnitude estimate of their numbers. We must therefore accelerate and at the same time make more selective our approaches to learning about global biodiversity: there is no hope of completing an inventory during a century in which up to two-thirds of the species are likely to vanish permanently. Completing the inventories of some better-known groups and those of economic importancesuch as vertebrate animals, butterflies, ticks, mosquitoes, and plantsseems reasonable; taking appropriate steps to gain an appreciation of the diversity and patterns of geographic distribution of othersespecially those of ecological or economic significance, such as fungi, nematodes, mites, and selected groups of insectsalso seems reasonable. The simple fact is that if we do not do so, we shall never have an idea of how many species there were or where they existed; we shall certainly be less able save them over the coming years.