September 2000-November 2002
On 18-19 September 2000, 40 scientists and other professionals from
around the world met at the California Academy of Sciences to explore
the value of the establishment of the ALL Species Foundation, a
non-profit (501 c 3 tax deductible) organization. The organization
would catalog very living species on earth within one human generation
(25 years). It was agreed that a complete inventory of all species,
including microbes, on our planet would greatly enhance the capacity to
conserve essential biodiversity. This inventory would need to enlist
the support and cooperation of scientific organizations around the
The full scope of the project emerged as needs and practicalities came
into clearer focus. Three workshops/
conferences were held to determine
scientific and organizational priorities and initial partners.
Questions addressed early on included:
* What is the time and money needed to get near closure on "all"
species? (25 years and $1-3 billion were first approximations.)
* What would have the highest yield at lowest cost? (Use of the
Web to fully connect and rationalize the existing disparate rosters of
species seemed and still seems a necessary and inexpensive step.)
* What are the realities of getting serious field science
established and maintained in countries of the South where most of the
undiscovered species are located? (Enough failures and successes in
this domain exist to develop best practices and proceed accordingly.)
Early on, it was recognized that to succeed, ALL Species would need a
mix of capable and committed Scientists, Framers, and Funders (to use
Kevin Kelly's terminology). Almost
100 outstanding scientists and
related professionals have stepped up in the ensuing two years.
Taxonomists worldwide since Linnaeus have dreamed repeatedly of
identifying all species on Earth. Prior to ALL Species, all attempts
have been still-born for lack of funds or lack of logistical solutions.
ALL Species offered particular hope in the funding arena as it intended
to target the new private wealth generated in the New Economy. New
tools and technologies such as the Internet, GPS, and DNA analysis,
offer additional hope that many of the logistical challenges can now be
December 2002 Forward
A generous grant from the Evert Schlinger Foundation allowed ALL Species
to launch, grow, and evolve for the first two years on its 25-year
mission. But as we all know, 2000 was very different time economically.
None of us could have predicted the economic downturn, or an event like
9/11, which has made philanthropic giving difficult today and non-profit
ALL Species has also suffered from the current economic climate and
been unable to raise sufficient additional general operating funds.
Unfortunately, as announced in a recent press
release, it will
officially close its San Francisco office in the Presidio on 1 December
2002. However, the California Academy of Sciences has provided an
office for one staff member of ALL Species to continue work.
Despite decentralization, ALL continues to gain traction on several
fronts. In fact, key Initiatives have been funded and are moving
forward. The ALL Governing Board and Advisors are determined to ensure
that while the ALL Species Foundation must decentralize, that the
underlying concept behind ALL, to accelerate the discovery and
description of all life on Earth, will continue to flourish.