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Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

by

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction Cover

ISBN13: 9780385535915
ISBN10: 0385535910
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In its 4.5 billion–year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful megavolcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How?

As a species, Homo sapiens is at a crossroads. Study of our planet’s turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference.

It’s a frightening prospect, as each of the Earth’s past major disasters — from meteor strikes to bombardment by cosmic radiation — resulted in a mass extinction, where more than 75 percent of the planet’s species died out. But in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz, science journalist and editor of the science Web site io9.com explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Life on Earth has come close to annihilation — humans have, more than once, narrowly avoided extinction just during the last million years — but every single time a few creatures survived, evolving to adapt to the harshest of conditions.

This brilliantly speculative work of popular science focuses on humanity’s long history of dodging the bullet, as well as on new threats that we may face in years to come. Most important, it explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow. From simulating tsunamis to studying central Turkey’s ancient underground cities; from cultivating cyanobacteria for “living cities” to designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective; from using math to stop pandemics to studying the remarkable survival strategies of gray whales, scientists and researchers the world over are discovering the keys to long-term resilience and learning how humans can choose life over death.

Newitz’s remarkable and fascinating journey through the science of mass extinctions is a powerful argument about human ingenuity and our ability to change. In a world populated by doomsday preppers and media commentators obsessively forecasting our demise, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a compelling voice of hope. It leads us away from apocalyptic thinking into a future where we live to build a better world — on this planet and perhaps on others. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever the future holds.

Review:

"As Walking Dead fans know, few things are more enjoyable than touring the apocalypse from the safety of your living room. Even as Scatter, Adapt, and Remember cheerfully reminds us that asteroid impacts, mega-volcanos and methane eruptions are certain to come, it suggests how humankind can survive and even thrive. Yes, Annalee Newitz promises, the world will end with a bang, but our species doesn't have to end with a whimper. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a guide to Homo sapiens' next million years. I had fun reading this book and you will too." Charles Mann, author of 1491

Review:

"Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a refreshingly optimistic and well thought out dissection of that perennial worry: the coming apocalypse. While everyone else stridently shouts about the end of days, this book asks and answers a simple question: 'If it's so bad, then why are we still alive?' I found myself in awe of the incredible extinction events that humankind — and life in general — has already survived, and Newitz inspires us with engaging arguments that our race will keep reaching the end of the world and then keep living through it. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember intimately acquaints the reader with our two-hundred-thousand-year tradition of survival — nothing less than our shared heritage as human beings." Daniel H. Wilson, author of Robopocalypse and Amped

Review:

"One part OMNI-grade optimistic futurism; one part terrifying disaster-history; entirely awesome and inspiring. A FTL rocket-ride through extinction and its discontents." Cory Doctorow, author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Review:

"An animated and absorbing account into how life has survived mass extinctions so far...and what we need to do to make sure humans don't perish in the next one....Humans may be experts at destroying the planet, but we are no slouches at preserving it, either, and Newitz's shrewd speculations are heartening." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This book is not a survivalist guide but rather a grand historical overview that puts humanity in the middle of its evolution, with fascinating looks both back and forward in time. An enormous amount of knowledge is gathered here, and the book accomplishes something almost impossible, being extremely interesting on every single page. A real pleasure to read and think about." Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy

Review:

"One of the best popular science books I've read in a long, long time — and perhaps the only one that takes such a clear-eyed view of the future." Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus

Synopsis:

Climate change. Pandemics. Catastrophic volcanoes. Should we just give up and accept our doom? Absolutely not. Homo sapiens will survive the next mass extinction.

Annalee Newitz's brilliantly speculative and hopeful work of popular science focuses our attention on humanity's long history of dodging the bullet of extinction — and suggests practical ways to keep doing it. From bacteria labs in St. Louis to ancient underground cities in central Turkey, we discover the keys to long-term survival. This book leads us away from apocalyptic thinking, into a future where we live to build a better world.

About the Author

Annalee Newitz is the founding editor of the science website io9.com and a journalist with a decade's experience in writing about science, culture, and the future for such publications as Wired, Popular Science, and The Washington Post. She is the editor of the anthology She's Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Geeky Stuff (2006) and was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. She lives in San Francisco.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Tung, July 15, 2013 (view all comments by Tung)
Annalee Newitz, found of the science website io9, has become my second or third favorite general science writer on the strength of this book. Her primary competitor is Bad Astronomy's Phil Plaitt, and #1 by a clear margin is Mary Roach, whose writing has some similarities to Newitz's but is funnier.

"Scatter, Adapt, and Remember" is a coherent, start to finish account that can be broken down into distinct segments: (1) mass extinctions have occurred in the Earth's past, and are likely to happen again (with a nice subpart about what wiped out the dinosaurs); (2) there have always been survivors of mass extinctions, so what do they have in common (besides some luck)?; (3) scatter, adapt, and remembering the past are the keys to survival, and we should keep them in mind; (4) what can we do now -- adapting our cities, etc. to be more robust against earthquakes and other natural disasters; and (5) what should we aim for in the future: defending the Earth against killer asteroids, scattering off the planet, adapting for interspace travel if necessary.

Newitz has a nice, clear writing style with, as I noted earlier, touches of Mary Roach-like humor (though not to the same potty-mind extent -- which is too bad, because that's what I love about Roach's writing). There's a precision and exactitude to Newitz's exposition that I appreciated; for example, in writing about the dinosaurs' extinction, she makes clear that while this happened overnight in geologic time, it actually took hundreds of thousands of years. Often, the usual account of what wiped the dinosaurs out sounds like a big meteor hit the Earth, and the dinosaurs died overnight or something like that.

I thought this book would have more similarities with Plaitt's "Death From the Skies" (about the various ways nature can kill us) than it actually did. It's a little like a mash-up of that book with Roach's "Packing For Mars," but with a longer time frame than the latter book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385535915
Subtitle:
How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction
Author:
Newitz, Annalee
Publisher:
Doubleday Books
Subject:
Biology-Evolution
Subject:
Philosophy & Aspects
Publication Date:
20130531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
320

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Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction New Hardcover
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$26.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385535915 Reviews:
"Review" by , "As Walking Dead fans know, few things are more enjoyable than touring the apocalypse from the safety of your living room. Even as Scatter, Adapt, and Remember cheerfully reminds us that asteroid impacts, mega-volcanos and methane eruptions are certain to come, it suggests how humankind can survive and even thrive. Yes, Annalee Newitz promises, the world will end with a bang, but our species doesn't have to end with a whimper. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a guide to Homo sapiens' next million years. I had fun reading this book and you will too."
"Review" by , "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a refreshingly optimistic and well thought out dissection of that perennial worry: the coming apocalypse. While everyone else stridently shouts about the end of days, this book asks and answers a simple question: 'If it's so bad, then why are we still alive?' I found myself in awe of the incredible extinction events that humankind — and life in general — has already survived, and Newitz inspires us with engaging arguments that our race will keep reaching the end of the world and then keep living through it. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember intimately acquaints the reader with our two-hundred-thousand-year tradition of survival — nothing less than our shared heritage as human beings."
"Review" by , "One part OMNI-grade optimistic futurism; one part terrifying disaster-history; entirely awesome and inspiring. A FTL rocket-ride through extinction and its discontents."
"Review" by , "An animated and absorbing account into how life has survived mass extinctions so far...and what we need to do to make sure humans don't perish in the next one....Humans may be experts at destroying the planet, but we are no slouches at preserving it, either, and Newitz's shrewd speculations are heartening."
"Review" by , "This book is not a survivalist guide but rather a grand historical overview that puts humanity in the middle of its evolution, with fascinating looks both back and forward in time. An enormous amount of knowledge is gathered here, and the book accomplishes something almost impossible, being extremely interesting on every single page. A real pleasure to read and think about."
"Review" by , "One of the best popular science books I've read in a long, long time — and perhaps the only one that takes such a clear-eyed view of the future."
"Synopsis" by , Climate change. Pandemics. Catastrophic volcanoes. Should we just give up and accept our doom? Absolutely not. Homo sapiens will survive the next mass extinction.

Annalee Newitz's brilliantly speculative and hopeful work of popular science focuses our attention on humanity's long history of dodging the bullet of extinction — and suggests practical ways to keep doing it. From bacteria labs in St. Louis to ancient underground cities in central Turkey, we discover the keys to long-term survival. This book leads us away from apocalyptic thinking, into a future where we live to build a better world.

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