One Planet: A Celebration of Biodiversity Hardcover – May 1 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In an effort to reawaken our consciousness of the environment, this hefty volume offers text about and photographs (taken by a team of more than 20 nature photographers) of eight modern ecosystems: oceans, deserts, grasslands, polar regions, wetlands, mountains, forests and cities. Including pictures portraying the beauty of the natural world as well as images of its destruction, French nature writer Hulot and the foundation bearing his name succeed in emphasizing humans' not always salubrious influence on biodiversity, from sea snails of the ocean floor to the common city rat. The photographs"whether stunning or shocking, like that of a gory fish market in Tokyo and one of a stork trapped in a plastic bag are much more effective for Hulot's environmental project than the brief, condemning text, characterized by words like "selfish," "pitiful," "pathetic" and "sickening." The juxtaposition of clichéd images (a clownfish in a sea anemone and an otter floating on its back) with those of a rusted ship hulk marooned in the desert, circular hollows used to collect salt in Niger and an aerial view of crop irrigation offers an innovative picture of modern ecosystems. With more than 300 full-color pages, this volume offers a look into the near and far reaches of the world, which share the common consequences of an advancing human population. (July)
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*Starred Review* A big subject embraced by a big, beautiful book. Hulot, a well-traveled French journalist, has assembled breathtaking color photographs by a superb cast of international photographers to create an astonishing pictorial survey of the planet, ranging from close-ups of the tiniest of creatures to glorious panoramic landscapes. The images are powerful. It's often said that the first photographs of the earth from space raised ecological awareness in the 1970s. Our twenty-first-century predicament is neatly expressed in an Eric Lewis cartoon first published in the New Yorker in 2002. A doctorlike planet offers this diagnosis to an ailing earth, "I'm afraid you have humans." Hulot's lucid and heart-seizing commentary details the ways our modes of living are damaging the biosphere. Beauty is everywhere, yet life's profusion and diversity are dwindling. The oceans are emptying, deserts advancing, grasslands vanishing, the polar ice caps melting, glaciers shrinking, and tropical forests and wetlands--"cradles of biodiversity . . . vitally important to ecological balance"--are disappearing. Hulot's splendid and bracing global overview (ideal for display) summons up a renewed sense of connection and commitment to the planet and reminds us that to destroy nature is to destroy ourselves. Donna Seaman
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