Our world is far richer than previously conceived, yet so ravaged by human activity that half its species could be gone by the end of the present century. These two contrasting themes--unexpected magnificence and underestimated peril--have originated during the past two decades of research. In this timely and important new book, one of our greatest living scientists describes exactly what treasures of the natural world we are about to lose forever and what we can do right now to save them. Destruction of natural habitats, the rampant spread of invasive species, pollution, uncontrolled population growth and overharvesting are the main threats to our natural world. Wilson explains how each of these elements works to undo the web of life that supports us, and why it is in our best interests to stop it. THE FUTURE OF LIFE is a magisterial accomplishment - both a moving description of the world's astonishing animals and plants and a guidebook for the protection of all its species, including our own.
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(198mm x 126mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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UK Kirkus Review »
This is an eloquent, intellectually sustained and impassioned argument for conservation which urges a change of priorities in how we view our economic future. Wilson - Professor and Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University in the USA, and author of three Pulitzer prize-winning books (On Human Nature, The Ants and Consilience) - argues that the wealth of the natural economy is plummeting precipitously whilst economic wealth booms. The Earth's finite resources are being gobbled up by a population heading for inevitable increase even as birth rates stabilize. World population has now passed six billion and on present growth rates will reach 14 billion in the next half century - well past the level of sustainable capacity. The inescapable end result will be a decline in resources available and scarcity of both food and water. This is not just Malthus revisited. Wilson is also passionate about how the richness of species and the fragility of the planet are suffering under the combined assault of human consumption and industrialization. He builds a sense of awe at what we may lose - there are around 1.5 to 1.8 million named species yet, it is estimated, the true number of living species ranges from 3.6 to 100 million - 'we have only begun to explore life on earth'. Even in the 1990s, four new land mammals were discovered, and macro-species are a small proportion of the total - indeed the most abundant species on earth is an organism so tiny it was discovered only in 1988. He describes bugs which can live under two miles of ice in the East Antarctic; those which survive best at a temperature of 221 degrees Fahrenheit; bacteria which can survive 1000 times the radiation of a Hiroshima and those which metabolize hydrogen sulphide from rock. All components of the Earth's varied biosphere are interlinked and intimately connected to the welfare of the planet. Wilson is no blinkered eco-warrior, and proposes solutions which make conservation economically sustainable while safeguarding the future of our planet both for other species and for our own. Essential reading. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Edward O. Wilson
Born in Alabama in 1929, Edward O. Wilson has taught at Harvard since 1955 where he is currently Honorary Curator in Entomology of the Museum of Comparative Zoology.