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The Future of Life Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jan 8 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (Jan. 8 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679450785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679450788
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #937,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

The eminent Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Wilson marshals all the prodigious powers of his intellect and imagination in this impassioned call to ensure the future of life. Opening with an imagined conversation with Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, he writes that he has come "to explain to you, and in reality to others and not least to myself, what has happened to the world we both have loved." Based on a love affair with the natural world that spans 70 years, Wilson combines lyrical descriptions with dire warnings and remarkable stories of flora and fauna on the edge of extinction with hard economics. How many species are we really losing? Is environmentalism truly contrary to economic development? And how can we save the planet? Wilson has penned an eloquent plea for the need for a global land ethic and offers the strategies necessary to ensure life on earth based on foresight, moral courage, and the best tools that science and technology can provide. -- Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

Legendary Harvard biologist Wilson (On Human Nature; The Ants; etc.) founded sociobiology, the controversial branch of evolutionary biology, and won the Pulitzer Prize twice. This volume, his manifesto to the public at large, is a meditation on the splendor of our biosphere and the dangers we pose to it. In graceful, expressive and vigorous prose, Wilson argues that the challenge of the new century will be "to raise the poor to a decent standard of living worldwide while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible." For as America consumes and the Third World tries to keep up, we lose biological diversity at an alarming rate. But the "trajectory" of species loss depends on human choice. If current levels of consumption continue, half the planet's remaining species will be gone by mid-century. Wilson argues that the "great dilemma of environmental reasoning" stems from the conflict between environmentalism and economics, between long-term and short-term values. Conservation, he writes, is necessary for our long-term health and prosperity. Loss of biodiversity translates into economic losses to agriculture, medicine and the biotech industries. But the "bottleneck" of overpopulation and overconsumption can be safely navigated: adequate resources exist, and in the end, success or failure depends upon an ethical decision. Global conservation will succeed or fail depending on the cooperation between government, science and the private sector, and on the interplay of biology, economics and diplomacy. "A civilization able to envision God and to embark on the colonization of space," Wilson concludes, "will surely find the way to save the integrity of this planet and the magnificent life it harbors."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The totality of life, known as the biosphere to scientists and creation to theologians, is a membrane of organisms wrapped around Earth so thin it cannot be seen edgewise from a space shuttle, yet so internally complex that most species composing it remain undiscovered. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Ha on May 25 2004
Format: Paperback
I really enjoy reading the book ¡§The Future of Life¡¨ by the Biologist Edward O. Wilson. It is a rich and vivid book where the writer uses lots of brilliant and detailed description about the animals and other habitats. The sufficient amount information provides me a great and accurate picture of how the wild lives out there truly live.
This book depicts how Agriculture, one of the vital industries, endangers the remaining wild species and the nature environment. The world's food supply is hung by a slender thread of biodiversity. Ninety percent of the food supply is actually provided by slightly more than a hundred plant species out of a quarter-million known to exist. Of these hundred species, twenty species carry most of the load, of which only the main three--Wheat, maize, and rice---stand between humanity and starvation. Furthermore, most of the premier twenty are those that happened to be present in the agricultural region.
In a more general sense, these important species are the major potential donors of genes that genetic engineering utilize to improve the crop performance. With the insertion of the right snippets of DNA, new strains can be created that are variously cold-hardy, pest-proofed, perennial, fast growing, highly nutritious, multipurpose, water-conservative, and more easily sowed and harvested. And compared with traditional breeding techniques, genetic engineering is all but instantaneous.
In sum, Genetic Engineering have drastically changed our old ways of growing crops and thus, it threatens the future existence of the other species since it have significantly decreased the diversity of the nature wild lives.
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Format: Paperback
The Future Of Life is a great book and a perfect antidote to: a) unwarranted optimism about the state of the environment, which by almost any measure appears desperate; b) unwarranted pessimism or fatalism regarding man's ability to DO something about this situation; and c) the reams of misinformation, uninformed opinion, and ridiculously wild-eyed optimism on environmental matters that exists out there (i.e., "The Skeptical Environmentalist").
Unlike The Skeptical Environmentalist, which is written by a statistician, The Future Of Life is written by one of the world's greatest living scientists, Edward O. Wilson, author of 20 books (including Sociobiology, and Consilience), winner of two Pulitzer prizes plus dozens of science prizes, and discoverer of hundreds of new species. Dr. Wilson is often called, for good reason, "the father of biodiversity." Wilson is also one of the rare breed of scientists, like Stephen J. Gould, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking, who can actually communicate their thoughts and findings to the general public. This is particularly important when it comes to Wilson's area of expertise, given that the environment is something which affects all of us and which all of us can play a part in protecting (or destroying).
Wilson's main theme can be summed up as "situation desperate, but not hopeless." Why desperate? Because humans--all 6 billion of them--are the most destructive force ever unleashed on Earth. According to Wilson, humanity's "bacterial" rate of growth during the 20th century, its short-sightedness, wasteful consumption patterns, general greed and rapaciousness, ignorance, and technological power have resulted in a mass extinction: "species of plants and animals...
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By A Customer on Jan. 4 2004
Format: Paperback
There are many species in the world. There are all different types of species, living in all different types of habitats. But how long will they be around? There is only a fraction of the original number of species that once existed on the Earth's land and in the oceans. Why are so many species coming to extinction so quickly? HIPPO is the answer. HIPPO is the reason created by "conservation biologists." HIPPO gives explanation for the disappearing of species. HIPPO is just one of the many things explained in this book.

In Edward O. Wilson's book, The Future of Life, the future of life on Earth is questioned. Wilson, and other professionals, look at statistics and find the patterns to predict the future. By following the patterns, they are able to predict how long a species is expected to survive in the wild. Also, the size of the population of humanity will change over time. Wilson looks at all of the different scenarios, which results in the many different possible outcomes.

Through looking at many studies it has become evident that the human species is responsible for most of the extinction of species. People come in and ruin habitats, such as the rainforests. They also hunt the animals and introduce alien species, which crowd out or kill out the native species of a land. Although now, many attempts at saving the mass extinction have started, it will take some time to be effective and at the current rates, it is too late. However, Wilson hopes that with reading this book, more attempts will be made. We must increase the conservation and decrease the destruction of species. The flora and fauna of our world need our help. We created the problem and now we must help to fix it.

Read The Future of Life, by Edward O.
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