Monday, December 18, 2006

Saving Fungi Might Save Your Life

I'm reading Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist E.O. Wilson's book, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. It was highly recommended by visionary activist astrologer Caroline Casey, who is a beacon for our times (and featured on my Beacons web page). I've quoted Wilson's words here before, but from a secondary source.

Although I already feel deeply aligned with his message, and understand intellectually the critical role insects and plants play in maintaining life on Earth, his description on page 31 of why we should care about vanishing ecosystems brought me up short. It's almost unimaginable, how a seemingly lowly flora or creature could render the most magnificent blessing. The following stunned me and made me want to research all of his examples in depth:

"Critics of environmentalism...forget, if they ever knew, how the voracious caterpillars of an obscure moth from the American tropics saved Australia's pastureland from the overgrowth of cactus; how a Madagascar 'weed', the rosy periwinkle, provided the alkaloids that cure most cases of Hodgkin's disease and acute childhood leukemia; how another substance from an obscure Norwegian fungus made possible the organ transplant industry; how a chemical from the saliva of leeches yielded a solvent that prevents blood clots during and after surgery; and so on through the pharmacopoeia that has stretched from the herbal medicines of Stone Age shamans to the magic-bullet cures of present-day biomedical science."

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