Ants make up two-thirds of the biomass of all the insects. There are millions of species of organisms and we know almost nothing about them.
The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.
The historical circumstance of interest is that the tropical rain forests have persisted over broad parts of the continents since their origins as stronghold of the flowering plants 150 million years ago.
I had reached a point in my career in which I was ready to try something new in my writing, and the idea of a novel has always been in the back of my mind.
Ants have the most complicated social organization on earth next to humans.
Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.
To the extent that philosophical positions both confuse us and close doors to further inquiry, they are likely to be wrong.
The ant world is a tumult, a noisy world of pheromones being passed back and forth.
Of course, there is no reconciliation between the theory of evolution by natural selection and the traditional religious view of the origin of the human mind.
In addition I wanted to write a Southern novel, because I'm a Southerner.
For me, the peculiar qualities of faith are a logical outcome of this level of biological organization.
It's always been a great survival value for people to believe they belong to a superior tribe. That's just in human relationships.
The world depends on fungi, because they are major players in the cycling of materials and energy around the world.
The two major challenges for the 21st century are to improve the economic situation of the majority and save as much of the planet as we can.
Ideas emerge when a part of the real or imagined world is studied for its own sake.
What we need is an electronic encyclopedia of life, with one page for each species. On each page is given everything known about that species.
I doubt that most people with short-term thinking love the natural world enough to save it.
True character arises from a deeper well than religion.
We don't need to clear the 4 to 6 percent of the Earth's surface remaining in tropical rain forests, with most of the animal and plant species living there.
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.
In 2010, my two Harvard mathematician colleagues and I dismantled kin-selection theory, which was the reigning theory of the origin of altruism at the time.
An individual ant, even though it has a brain about a millionth of a size of a human being's, can learn a maze; the kind we use is a simple rat maze in a laboratory. They can learn it about one-half as fast as a rat.
Competing is intense among humans, and within a group, selfish individuals always win. But in contests between groups, groups of altruists always beat groups of selfish individuals.
We ought to recognize that religious strife is not the consequence of differences among people. It's about conflicts between creation stories.