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Scientists Plan Observatory Of Life On Earth

SCIENTISTS are planning an Internet-based observatory of life on Earth as a guide to everything from the impact of climate change on wildlife to pests that can damage crops.

"I would hope that we might even have millions of people providing data" in the long term, James Edwards, head of the Encyclopedia of Life based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, yesterday said of the 10-year project.

He said scientific organizations were already working to link up thousands of computer databases of animals and plants into a one-stop "virtual observatory" that could be similar to global systems for monitoring weather or earthquakes.

People in many countries already log observations on the Internet, ranging from sightings of rare birds to the dates on which flowers bloom. The new system would link up the disparate sites.

About 400 experts from 50 countries met in London yesterday for a conference organized by the EOL to discuss the plans.


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