NEW YORK - Folk rock legend Paul Simon has announced a US tour to promote biodiversity efforts as fears mount for the long-term survival of life on Earth.
The 75-year-old songwriter, who a year ago had been mulling retirement, said all proceeds from his 17-date tour would fund the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.
Started by the Harvard scientist of the same name, the foundation supports education and research into biodiversity—the interconnected lives of the planet's vast array of species.
Wilson, one of the foremost experts on ants, has warned that the planet is in the midst of a sixth great extinction as the destruction of rain forests, climate change and other human actions cause species to die out at a fast-accelerating rate.
Simon, announcing the tour through an interview with the environmental site Mongabay on Monday, said he met Wilson in 2007 and was struck by his phrase that "Earth's a jewel, but it's endangered."
"It's going to take a little while, maybe 100 years, maybe 200 years, to fix it. But we can, and then it would be like living in paradise.
"But he said it's only going to take 75 to 100 years to make it into a desolate place," Simon said.
With some officials in President Donald Trump's administration denying the scientific consensus on climate change, Simon described Wilson's message as optimistic.
"It is more inspiring in this particular way than fear. It's not always the case in human nature, but in this particular case, predictions of dire consequences for our actions tend to produce denial," Simon said.
Simon will open his tour on June 1 in St. Augustine, Florida and play 16 solo shows across the country, mostly in open-air venues.
The 17th show will come when he headlines Eaux Claires, the festival in Wisconsin launched three years ago by Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon.
Simon, formerly in a duo with Art Garfunkel, released a string of classic hits including "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Mrs. Robinson" and helped shape the genre of world music fusion with his 1986 album "Graceland."
Simon spoke of retirement before two shows last year at the Forest Hills stadium in his home of Queens, New York. But he returned soon afterwards, singing at the Democratic National Convention and touring Europe. —Agence France-Presse