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CONSERVATION OF THE LIVING ENVIRONMENT A SPECIAL SECTION ORGANIZED AND EDITED BY Pamela J. Parker George B. Rabb Ronald Singer Sponsored by the Conservadon and Research Committee of the Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL 60513) INTRODUCTION In December, 1988, the Conservation and Research Committee (SEACON) of the Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo) agreed to help sponsor a special issue ofPerspectives in Biology and Medicine so as to spread the concepts of conservation biology to a wider and especially receptive audience. Drs. Pamela Parker (Chairperson, Conservation Biology Department, Brookfield Zoo), George Rabb (Director of the Zoo), and Ronald Singer (a member of SEACON and Associate Editor of Perspectives [PBM]) planned a series of papers by distinguished authors dealing with population genetics, behavior, ecology (especially in relation to the reintroduction to the wild of captive bred populations), population management (or the maintenance of natural resources), and manipulative reproductive physiology. A major focus was to be the influence of the modern zoo on conservation biology. Owing to a series of unforeseeable circumstances, the idea of a special issue has to be placed on hold. Instead, we are proceeding with the presentation of three highly varied and excellent papers which highlight and emphasize many of the concepts and forces ofconservation biology. In due course other papers will be published in similar special sections of PBM until such time when all the sections can be recombined into a single volume between two covers. In a remarkable issue ("Planet of the Year") of Time magazine, January 2, 1989, mind-staggering and scary, but accurate and informative, articles focussed our attention on a possible planetary holocaust facing humankind. No effort will be made here to summarize or precis the excellent papers. Only two quotations, very pertinent to our issue, will be borrowed. Thomas A. Sancton provides a line from Ecclesiastes: One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. To which we add: but in what condition? Let there be no illusions. Taking effective action to halt the massive injury to the earth's environment will require a mobilization of political will, international cooperation and sacrifice unknown except in wartime. . . . Now, more than ever, the world needs leaders who can inspire their fellow citizens with a fiery sense of mission, not a nationalistic or military campaign but a universal crusade to save the planet, [p. 30] Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 36, 3 ¦ Spring 1993 477 Momentum has been building for years to accord environmental health regard similar to that given to human health. Some individuals and local groups of people have long ordered their lives in an environmentally responsible way. Nationally and internationally, however, we have just begun to recognize vital needs for knowledge of the environment , the strategies and instruments for its wise management, and the human and financial resources to carry out appropriate programs to maintain environmental fitness. This recognition of needs has come, ironically, as direct relationships between human health and welfare and environmental well-being have manifested themselves in various parts of the world. A major issue is the causal relationship between the human species and the evident continuing degradation of the global environment and the diminution of biological diversity worldwide. The prospective continuing growth in the human population and the intensity of use of natural resources by the so-called developed nations are factors that spell worsening conditions for environmental well-being, unless we act to stop and reverse our negative impacts. In responding to these evident challenges, governments, professional organizations, institutions, and citizens groups have begun to organize their activities to help us as a species live sustainably with the rest of nature. The following articles introduce some of the professional, technical , and scientific considerations that occur as one dimension of concern , the loss of biological diversity, is examined in detail. Biological diversity exists both in natural and modified forms. The former is estimated to be represented by 10-30 million species of plants, animals, and other organisms. The modified forms until recently were represented by only a hundred or so species domesticated or otherwise genetically modified by humans. The prospects are that increasingly sophisticated techniques will enable us to modify the genomes of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 475-479
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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