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Life in the balance :humanity and the biodiversity crisis


Life in the balance :humanity and the biodiversity crisis Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Life in the Balance, Niles Eldredge argues that the Earth is confronting a disaster in the making--an ecological crisis that, if left unresolved, could ultimately lead to mass extinction on the scale of that which killed the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. Writing for general readers, he reviews compelling evidence for this "biodiversity crisis," showing that species are dying out at an unnaturally rapid rate. He demonstrates the importance of maintaining biodiversity, taking the reader on a journey that reveals the twin faces of biodiversity--over thirteen million living species and the ecosystems through which these species transform the sun's energy into life-sustaining matter. Throughout, Eldredge shows how our own fate is intricately linked with that of other species.

Eldredge, one of the world's foremost paleontologists, begins by taking us to the heart of Botswana's Okavango Delta, considered by many to be among the last "Edens" left on Earth--a place where a rich assortment of organisms exist in natural equilibrium. However, it is also a place where the results of human activity--pollution, clear-cutting, water-diversion, encroaching agriculture, disease--now pose the same ecological threats that, on a worldwide scale, put the entire planet at risk. Eldredge then leads us on a fascinating exploration of the Earth's organisms--animals, plants, fungi, the microbes that underpin all life--and of the diverse ecosystems from the tundra to the tropics in which these organisms live. It is a journey that demonstrates the inherent value of the millions of species and ecosystems on Earth, and the importance of biodiversity to the entire biosphere and to humans' continued existence.

Eldredge concludes that humans not only are responsible for the biodiversity crisis but also hold the key to preventing an impending Sixth Extinction. He argues that we must, among other strategies, pledge ourselves to sustainable development and the conservation of wild places. An eloquent and passionate account by one of today's leading scientists, Life in the Balance will draw new attention to one of the most pressing problems now facing the world. In this book, Eldredge explores the same themes that illuminate The American Museum of Natural History's new Hall of Biodiversity, for which he is Scientific Curator. The Hall is scheduled to open in spring 1998.

About the Author

Niles Eldredge is Curator in the Department of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History. He is the author of numerous books, including The Miner's Canary, Fossils, and Time Frames: The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibria (all Princeton).

Table of Contents

Preface: The Biodiversity Crisis
Ch. 1Tales from the Swamp
Pt. IThe Biodiversity Crisis in Microcosm1
Pt. IIThe Ok Avango as Primordial Eden24
Ch. 2Biodiversity, Evolution, and Ecology49
Ch. 3The Tree of Life67
Ch. 4Ecosystem Panorama113
Ch. 5Biodiversity - A Threatened Natural Treasure143
Ch. 6Striking a Balance177
App. IAnimal Species Extinct Since Circa 1600195
App. IIEssential Microbes, Fungi, Animals, and Plants208
Bibliography of Suggested Readings216

Product Details

Humanity and the Biodiversity Crisis
Eldredge, Niles
Princeton University Press
Princeton, N.J. :
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Human ecology
Ecology - Ecosystems
Biological diversity
Biological diversity conservation
Biological Sciences.
Geological Science
History of Science and Medicine, Philosophy of Science
Earth Sciences
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
36 line illus. 2 maps
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » World Wildlife

Life in the balance :humanity and the biodiversity crisis Used Hardcover
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Product details 224 pages Princeton University Press,c1998. - English 9780691001258 Reviews:
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