More that 30 years ago E.O. Wilson wrote Biophilia. In it, he proposed that humans' have an innate tendency to admire living things. He expressed hope that by understanding our love of nature, we might develop a new conservation ethic.
"The reason I'm an optimist," Edward Wilson told NOVA's Peter Tyson, referring to where society stands in terms of protecting the natural world, "is that we still have a lot of elasticity, a lot of wiggle room."
Read the Biophilia Hypothesis on Wikipedia and hear "Biophilia" by Bjork.
NOVA: A Conversation with E.O. Wilson
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