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Medea Hypothesis (09 Edition)

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Synopses & Reviews

Please note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.

Publisher Comments:

In The Medea Hypothesis, renowned paleontologist Peter Ward proposes a revolutionary and provocative vision of life's relationship with the Earth's biosphere, one that has frightening implications for our future — yet also offers hope. Using the latest discoveries from the geological record, he argues that life might be its own worst enemy. This stands in stark contrast to James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis — the idea that life sustains habitable conditions on earth. In answer to Gaia, which draws on the idea of the good mother who nurtures life, Ward invokes Medea, the mythical mother who killed her own children. Could life by its very nature threaten its own existence?

According to the Medea hypothesis, it does. Ward demonstrates that all but one of the mass extinctions that have struck Earth were caused by life itself. He looks at our planet's history in a new way, revealing an Earth that is witnessing an alarming decline of diversity and biomass — a decline brought on by life's own biocidal tendencies. And the Medea hypothesis applies not just to our planet — its dire prognosis extends to all potential life in the universe. Yet life on Earth doesn't have to be lethal. Ward shows why, but warns that our time is running out.

Breathtaking in scope, The Medea Hypothesis is certain to arouse fierce debate and radically transform our worldview. It serves as an urgent challenge to all of us to think in new ways if we hope to save ourselves from ourselves.

Review:

"[Ward] hopes not only to shake the philosophical underpinnings of environmentalism, but to reshape our understanding of our relationship with nature, and of life's ultimate sustainability on this planet and beyond." Boston Globe

Review:

"The Medea Hypothesis will cause anyone who cares about the environment to think differently." Thomas E. Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment

Synopsis:

"A provocative look at the history of our living planet. Ward offers a distinct perspective and argues strongly that the only intelligent choice is to manage ourselves and the environment. The Medea Hypothesis will cause anyone who cares about the environment to think differently."--Thomas E. Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment

"This book casts the environmental debate in a completely new and important light. Ward demolishes the comfortable illusion that nature will take care of us if we just let it. To survive in the long term, the Earth needs a management team--we humans have to take up the job."--Chris McKay, NASA Ames Research Center

"The Medea Hypothesis is provocative, extremely well-written, and very convincing."--Simon A. Levin, Princeton University

"For those comforted by the notion of a benevolent Gaia working to sustain life on the planet, Ward's Medea is a nightmare, one that has recurred many times in Earth's history and is coming again soon, unless we take action to combat the self-annihilating tendency of the biosphere."--Lee R. Kump, coauthor of Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming

"Serious and well written, The Medea Hypothesis is sure to generate controversy among the experts. I read it over a weekend and could hardly put it aside until I finished it."--Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine

"This is an important and significant contribution to the fields of geobiology and astrobiology because it offers a startling new interpretation of the nature of Darwinian evolution. Ward's conclusion is both troubling and provocative: life may be its own worst enemy. Like James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, Ward's Medea hypothesis is likely to be debated for the next thirty years."--Joseph L. Kirschvink, California Institute of Technology

"A provocative rethinking of the coevolution of life and its environment. Peter Ward mounts a sustained critique of optimizing/homeostatic Gaia, providing a lucid set of examples of significant positive feedbacks arising from life. This book will have a strong heuristic impact on future research."--David Schwartzman, author of Life, Temperature, and the Earth

Synopsis:

In The Medea Hypothesis, renowned paleontologist Peter Ward proposes a revolutionary and provocative vision of life's relationship with the Earth's biosphere--one that has frightening implications for our future, yet also offers hope. Using the latest discoveries from the geological record, he argues that life might be its own worst enemy. This stands in stark contrast to James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis--the idea that life sustains habitable conditions on Earth. In answer to Gaia, which draws on the idea of the "good mother" who nurtures life, Ward invokes Medea, the mythical mother who killed her own children. Could life by its very nature threaten its own existence?

According to the Medea hypothesis, it does. Ward demonstrates that all but one of the mass extinctions that have struck Earth were caused by life itself. He looks at our planet's history in a new way, revealing an Earth that is witnessing an alarming decline of diversity and biomass--a decline brought on by life's own "biocidal" tendencies. And the Medea hypothesis applies not just to our planet--its dire prognosis extends to all potential life in the universe. Yet life on Earth doesn't have to be lethal. Ward shows why, but warns that our time is running out.

Breathtaking in scope, The Medea Hypothesis is certain to arouse fierce debate and radically transform our worldview. It serves as an urgent challenge to all of us to think in new ways if we hope to save ourselves from ourselves.

About the Author

Peter Ward's many books include the highly acclaimed "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe" and "Under a Green Sky" (Collins). He is professor of biology and Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, and an astrobiologist with NASA.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chapter 1: Darwinian Life 1

Chapter 2: What Is Evolutionary "Success"? 14

Chapter 3: Two Hypotheses about the Nature of Life on Earth 24

Chapter 4: Medean Feedbacks and Global Processes 55

Chapter 5: Medean Events in the History of Life 72

Chapter 6: Humans as Medeans 91

Chapter 7: Biomass through Time as a Test 98

Chapter 8: Predicted Future Trends of Biomass 114

Chapter 9: Summation 126

Chapter 10: Environmental Implications and Courses of Action 128

Chapter 11: What Must Be Done 141

References 157

Index 173

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691130750
Author:
Ward, Peter Douglas
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Ward, Peter
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Paleontology
Subject:
Life Sciences - Ecology
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Environmental geology
Subject:
Evolution (Biology)
Subject:
Extinction (Biology)
Subject:
Earth Sciences
Subject:
Birds and Natural History
Subject:
Biological Sciences.
Subject:
History of Science and Medicine, Philosophy of Science
Subject:
Environmental Studies-General
Subject:
Popular science
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Princeton Hardcover
Series:
Science Essentials
Publication Date:
May 2009
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
11 line illus. 2 tables.
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 16 oz

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Computers and Internet » Networking » General
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History and Social Science » Economics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
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Science and Mathematics » Geology » Earth Sciences
Science and Mathematics » Geology » Paleontology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Extinction
Science and Mathematics » Physics

Medea Hypothesis (09 Edition) Used Hardcover
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Product details 208 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691130750 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[Ward] hopes not only to shake the philosophical underpinnings of environmentalism, but to reshape our understanding of our relationship with nature, and of life's ultimate sustainability on this planet and beyond."
"Review" by , "The Medea Hypothesis will cause anyone who cares about the environment to think differently." Thomas E. Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment
"Synopsis" by ,

"A provocative look at the history of our living planet. Ward offers a distinct perspective and argues strongly that the only intelligent choice is to manage ourselves and the environment. The Medea Hypothesis will cause anyone who cares about the environment to think differently."--Thomas E. Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment

"This book casts the environmental debate in a completely new and important light. Ward demolishes the comfortable illusion that nature will take care of us if we just let it. To survive in the long term, the Earth needs a management team--we humans have to take up the job."--Chris McKay, NASA Ames Research Center

"The Medea Hypothesis is provocative, extremely well-written, and very convincing."--Simon A. Levin, Princeton University

"For those comforted by the notion of a benevolent Gaia working to sustain life on the planet, Ward's Medea is a nightmare, one that has recurred many times in Earth's history and is coming again soon, unless we take action to combat the self-annihilating tendency of the biosphere."--Lee R. Kump, coauthor of Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming

"Serious and well written, The Medea Hypothesis is sure to generate controversy among the experts. I read it over a weekend and could hardly put it aside until I finished it."--Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine

"This is an important and significant contribution to the fields of geobiology and astrobiology because it offers a startling new interpretation of the nature of Darwinian evolution. Ward's conclusion is both troubling and provocative: life may be its own worst enemy. Like James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, Ward's Medea hypothesis is likely to be debated for the next thirty years."--Joseph L. Kirschvink, California Institute of Technology

"A provocative rethinking of the coevolution of life and its environment. Peter Ward mounts a sustained critique of optimizing/homeostatic Gaia, providing a lucid set of examples of significant positive feedbacks arising from life. This book will have a strong heuristic impact on future research."--David Schwartzman, author of Life, Temperature, and the Earth

"Synopsis" by ,

In The Medea Hypothesis, renowned paleontologist Peter Ward proposes a revolutionary and provocative vision of life's relationship with the Earth's biosphere--one that has frightening implications for our future, yet also offers hope. Using the latest discoveries from the geological record, he argues that life might be its own worst enemy. This stands in stark contrast to James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis--the idea that life sustains habitable conditions on Earth. In answer to Gaia, which draws on the idea of the "good mother" who nurtures life, Ward invokes Medea, the mythical mother who killed her own children. Could life by its very nature threaten its own existence?

According to the Medea hypothesis, it does. Ward demonstrates that all but one of the mass extinctions that have struck Earth were caused by life itself. He looks at our planet's history in a new way, revealing an Earth that is witnessing an alarming decline of diversity and biomass--a decline brought on by life's own "biocidal" tendencies. And the Medea hypothesis applies not just to our planet--its dire prognosis extends to all potential life in the universe. Yet life on Earth doesn't have to be lethal. Ward shows why, but warns that our time is running out.

Breathtaking in scope, The Medea Hypothesis is certain to arouse fierce debate and radically transform our worldview. It serves as an urgent challenge to all of us to think in new ways if we hope to save ourselves from ourselves.

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