Photo of Peter H. Raven

Peter H. Raven

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his contributions to the dynamics of plant systematics and evolution, the introduction of the concept of coevolution, and his major contribution to the international efforts to preserve biodiversity.

Peter Raven defines plant systematics

According to Peter H. Raven most people suffer from “plant blindness” a condition where surrounding vegetation and the natural world goes completely unnoticed. He’s working to change that.

Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, is a leading botanist and biodiversity conservationist. Raven’s research in Latin America, Africa, Asia and North America highlighted the dangers of explosive population growth, consumption and use of high polluting technologies.

Raven advocates for environmental awareness and that environmental issues raise to the level of other foreign and domestic issues. Raven notes as a global community, humans are using 50 percent more of the planet’s sustainable capacity than exists.

“As we do so, the world is continuously becoming less resilient, less beautiful, less rich, and less sustainable,” he wrote in Environmental Health News.

“We are driving plants, animals, and other kinds of organisms to extinction at such a rate that about half of them are likely to be gone forever by the time our grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a chance to explore the world,” he wrote. “Most species will disappear unknown. We depend on them directly for our livelihood, and haven’t even begun to know the vast majority of them yet.”

By Christine Ayala