Tamas Torok, microbiologist at Earth Sciences Berkeley Lab:
Studying the tree of life, filling in the details, has tremendous benefits for our future. We have to understand how life evolved and how the evolution process proceeded. If we understand that we can take benefit of the biological diversity in solving our major challenges of our time, such as health care, agriculture production, energy production, [unintelligible,] or global climate change.
You’d never know from this but there are currently competing trees of life so there isn’t an “it,” exactly, to understand right now. And what there is to understand means getting involved in a controversy.
Dr. Torok may be a distinguished scientist who is just not a very inspiring speaker; otherwise, one would have to conclude from his performance that he isn’t very convinced himself.
That wouldn’t be surprising. The problems he identifies will be no closer to resolution when the current Tree of Life mess gets sorted out.
Which of them would worsen if we just forgot trees of life for a while?