Many of the world’s leading scientific institutions today announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life, an unprecedented global effort to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. For the first time in the history of the planet, scientists, students, and citizens will have multi-media access to all known living species, even those that have just been discovered.
While specific Encyclopedia of Life efforts, including the scanning of key research publications and data, have been underway since January 2006, work has accelerated due to the support provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the recent discussion of the Encyclopedia of Life by renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson at the March 2007 Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference.It looks fantastic and I hope it will succeed, although it feels like this has been tried before -- for instance, the ALL Species Foundation, which I first heard about from Terry Erwin while at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, and which really inspired me to do what I am doing right now. This effort, at least seems to be receiving a lot of press/support/attention, so perhaps it has a chance. A completed Encyclopedia of Life (actually, just a completed Encyclopedia of Ants) is basically my wet dream. I am going to look into whether or not I can help in any way.