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Wilson opens up his book with a letter to the deceased Henry David Thoreau a naturalist and author He begins by writing of how Thoreau has impacted him and then goes on to explain how drastically the world has changed since his time on Earth in 1845 when Thoreau built his shanty in Walden Woods No more than a billion people were alive in the 1840s but now more than seven billion fill the world Wilson calls Thoreau the prophet of the conservation movement who sought enlightenment in nature in exchange for social existence Which leads to the theme of the book when Wilson writes you hit upon an ethic with a solid feel to it nature is ours to explore forever it is our crucible and refuge it is our natural home it is all of these things Save it you said in wildness is the preservation of the world 16 Wilson closes the letter by thanking Henry for establishing that ethic which humans must now build on in order to find a solution to our environmental issuesThe chapter begins by describing in detail of the abundance of life on Earth and how where there is water life can be found Wilson then goes on to explain different types of bacteria and extremophiles able to thrive and multiply in the most inhospitable regions of the planet hence the title of the chapter To the Ends of Earth While somewhere between 15 million and 18 million species are documented there are species that have not yet even been discovered and everyday biologists are finding more The chapter closes with Wilsons hint of what is to come in the future Such is the biospheric membrane that covers Earth and you and me It is the miracle we have been given And our tragedy because a large part of it is being lost forever before we learn what it is and the best means by which
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