Thomas E Lovejoy, a prominent conservation biologist and the one who popularized the term biological diversity, has passed away. He was 80.
George Mason University, where he was the director for the Institute for a Sustainable Earth as well as the Amazon Biodiversity Center, announced his death.
Lovejoy was first referring to biological diversity, the rich variety of life on Earth, in the late 1970s. It was later shortened to biodiversity and has become one the most important themes in the age of climate change.
Lovejoy is a world-renowned extinction researcher. He found that habitat destruction, global warming and pollution are all responsible for the loss or disappearance of species.
He called for the restoration and protection of large areas and waterways in order to encourage the growth of native plants and animals.
Lovejoy was also involved in the creation of Nature, a classic American public television show that features stunning footage from eco-systems around the globe.
He was employed by the World Wildlife Fund at the time the show’s inception in 1982.
Lovejoys’s research led him to Brazil in the 1960s. He became a passionate advocate of the Amazon rainforest. He was instrumental in a Brazilian project to restore and protect threatened forest fragments.
Lovejoy received a grant from the National Geographic Society in 1971 for research on Amazon rainforest birds. He played many roles in the society over the five decades that followed.
Jill Tiefenthaler (chief executive officer of National Geographics) wrote in a blog post that Tom was an extraordinary scientist, professor and adviser.
He also served stints as a scientist and environment advisor under several presidents, including at the Smithsonian Institution and at the World Bank.