The biologist coined the term “biodiversity” in the 1980s and had a strong connection with Brazil, where he researched forests. In an interview in 2019, he warned that Amazon was approaching a critical point. Thomas Lovejoy, the American biologist known as the “Godfather of Biodiversity” and one of the leading experts in the Amazon rainforest, died in the 1980s for coining the term. There, Saturday (12/25), at age 80, in Washington.
Lovejoy decided to study biology after doing an internship at a zoo in New York State while in high school. He began studying the Amazon rainforest in Brazil in 1965 and received his doctorate in 1971 from Yale University.
The best scholar on the relationship between climate change and biodiversity won the 2012 Blue Planet Prize, the Nobel Prize for the Environment.
Lovejoy was joined by former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He was also Bush’s environmental adviser and former chief adviser to the World Bank on biodiversity, and was an honorary member of the National Geographic Institute, which funded their first study of Amazon rainforest birds.
He was also the director of the WWF, an American environmental organization, from 1973 to 1987, where he was responsible for scientific consultations on the rainforests of the Western Hemisphere.
“Tom leaves a deep legacy in the field of biology and national geography. (…) Tom’s pioneering research on Amazon, his passionate lawyer and many of his accomplishments have helped us to better understand, appreciate, and care about the diversity of life on our planet,” said National Geographic. Director Jill Defenthaler said in a statement.
Amazon Governor Wilson Lima (B.Sc.) mourned Lovejoy’s death on Twitter, saying he was “one of Amazon’s greatest scientists and scholars”, “leaving an incomparable knowledge of the Amazon to future generations”.
Link with Brazil
Lovejoy traveled extensively to Brazil to explore the Amazon rainforest, and in the late 1970s helped discover the Amazon Biodiversity Center and the Biological Dynamics Project.
He was the first environmental activist to be awarded the Order of Rio Franco by the Brazilian government in 1988, and in 1998 received the Order of Scientific Merit.
In an interview with DW Brazil in August 2019, Lovey expressed concern about the future of forests amid progress on deforestation, and said President Jair Bolsanaro was ignorant of the environment and science.
A few months ago, he co-authored an editorial in the scientific journal Science Advances with Brazilian meteorologist Carlos Nobre, warning that deforestation on the Amazon was heading towards biological patterns and climatic conditions known as an infiltration point. Irreversibly affected.
In that interview, he said he still hoped that Brazil would be able to regain the status of a global leader in the environment in the future and address biodiversity threats “through good dialogue between nations.”
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