We are rapidly acquiring a new picture of Earth, and it is crammed with millions upon millions of nature’s species on the verge of being replaced by billions upon billions of hungry people, asphalt, brick, glass, and useless eroded red clay baked by a harsh tropical sun. Many driving forces of evolution have affected carabid beetles and much of the other life on this planet. Very late in the scale of geologic time, a new driving force, humans, appeared. There is little question in my mind that Isaac Asimov (1974) in his wonderful Foundation Trilogy may have been particularly visionary when he described the planet Trantor, a sphere of steel and concrete; a hollow joke of its former self. Could Trantor be future Earth? Perhaps; perhaps not. Perhaps the biocrisis can be avoided. Human beings are starting to pay attention to the problem, and we’re a very resilient species and have a lot of good ideas. But do we have the resolve to rise above profit and greed?


Asimov, I. 1974. Foundation Trilogy. Avon, New York. 684 pp.

Erwin, T.L. 1982. Tropical forests: Their richness in Coleoptera and other Arthropod species. Coleopt. Bull. 36(1):74–75.

Erwin, T.L. 1983a. Beetles and other Arthropods of the tropical forest canopies at Manaus, Brasil, sampled with insecticidal fogging techniques. Pp. 59–75 in S.L.Sutton, T.C.Whitmore, and A.C. Chadwick, eds. Tropical Rain Forests: Ecology and Management. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.

Erwin, T.L. 1983b. Tropical forest canopies, the last biotic frontier. Bull. Entomol. Soc. Am. 29(1):14–19.

Erwin, T.L. 1985. Tambopata Reserved Zone, Madre de Dios, Peru: History and description of the Reserve. Rev. Peru. Entomol. 27:1–8.

Erwin, T.L., and J.Adis. 1982. Amazon inundation forests: Their role as short-term refuges and generators of species richness and taxon pulses. Pp. 358–371 in G.Prance, ed. Biological Diversification in the Tropics. Columbia University Press, New York.

Erwin, T.L., and J.C.Scott. 1980. Seasonal and size patterns, trophic structure, and richness of Coleoptera in the tropical arboreal ecosystem: The fauna of the tree Luehea seemannii Triana and Planch in the Canal Zone of Panama. Coleopt. Bull. 34(3):305–322.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement