Synopses & Reviews
In humanity's more than 100,000 year history, we have evolved from vulnerable creatures clawing sustenance from Earth to a sophisticated global society manipulating every inch of it. In short, we have become the dominant animal. Why, then, are we creating a world that threatens our own species? What can we do to change the current trajectory toward more climate change, increased famine, and epidemic disease?
Renowned Stanford scientists Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich believe that intelligently addressing those questions depends on a clear understanding of how we evolved and how and why we're changing the planet in ways that darken our descendants' future. The Dominant Animal arms readers with that knowledge, tracing the interplay between environmental change and genetic and cultural evolution since the dawn of humanity. In lucid and engaging prose, they describe how Homo sapiens adapted to their surroundings, eventually developing the vibrant cultures, vast scientific knowledge, and technological wizardry we know today.
But the Ehrlichs also explore the flip side of this triumphant story of innovation and conquest. As we clear forests to raise crops and build cities, lace the continents with highways, and create chemicals never before seen in nature, we may be undermining our own supremacy. The threats of environmental damage are clear from the daily headlines, but the outcome is far from destined. Humanity can again adapt: if we learn from our evolutionary past.
Those lessons are crystallized in The Dominant Animal. Tackling the fundamental challenge of the human predicament, Paul and Anne Ehrlich offer a vivid and unique exploration of our origins, our evolution, and our future.
"Since the 1968 publication of Paul and Anne Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, they have played a major role in generating awareness of looming ecological crisis. While their more dire predictions (millions dead in famines before the end of the 20th century) have not come to pass, the correctness of their fundamental thesis-that we are in danger of undermining 'the ability of Earth's environment to support much of life-including our own,' is now widely accepted. Forty years later, they consider scientific, technical and cultural developments (especially in the fields of genetics and information technology), and how they've raised the stakes, perhaps 'putting all of humanity on a course resembling the fate of ancient civilizations that collapsed.' They argue clearly and convincingly the pressing need for a global shift away from the ever-expanding siren call of consumerism, the culpability of corporate interests that have promoted resource-draining suburban sprawl, and the self-serving wastefulness of 'the most affluent fifth of the U.S. population.' Tough hopeful that such widespread transformation is possible, the Ehrlichs contend that it's only the encroaching crisis that will inspire it unless, that is, this fascinating, inspiring book gets the wide audience it deserves." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
andquot;Alpha male and female of contemporary science ... the Ehrlichs convey a message at once chilling and hopefulandhellip;. The big ideas and the tenor of The Dominant Animal are right on. The book rejects starry eyed insistence on new technology as humankindand#39;s savior in favor of socially responsible, if admittedly difficult-to-enact, prescriptions.andquot;
"Alpha male and female of contemporary science ... the Ehrlichs convey a message at once chilling and hopeful.. The big ideas and the tenor of The Dominant Animal are right on. The book rejects starry eyed insistence on new technology as humankinds savior in favor of socially responsible, if admittedly difficult-to-enact, prescriptions."(Seed)
andquot;Is there an armchair scientist on your gift list? Then you canand#39;t go wrong with The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. This fascinating book is not for a lightweight; itand#39;s filled with hypotheses, insight and ideas for thinkers. This is a perfect gift for someone who loves to study culture, but will also be a great for anyone whoand#39;s trying to and#39;go greenand#39; this year.andquot;
andquot;In The Dominant Animal, the Ehrlichs step back and analyse the big picture, looking carefully at how humans have evolved to dominance and, in the process, are laying waste the planet. Their message is that our technological advances arenand#39;t matched by how well we treat one another or the environment around us.andquot;
andquot;This is a grand tour of the current state of ecological science, and a tour de force of observation, insight, and suggestion.andquot;
andquot;This is a brilliant and fascinating account of how we became the planetand#39;s ruling species and now the major force determining the future of evolution. The Ehrlichsand#39; broad perspective and lucid prose bring fresh understanding to whatand#39;s going on in the world today. Everyone should read this book.andquot;
andquot;No one has more authority to write on these matters than the husband-and-wife team of Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich. For decades now they have been documenting and warning of humansand#39; effects on the environment. Their new book, The Dominant Animal, continues their chronicle of the damage we have done to our homeandhellip;. This is an important book,with much information and some really stimulating ideas. We need to build on these ideas, because the world is in an environmental mess and things are not getting better.andquot;
andquot;[The Ehrlichs] argue clearly and convincingly ... this fascinating, inspiring book [deserves a] wide audience.andquot;
andquot;andhellip;The Dominant Animal tells the story of how mankind came to dominate nearly every inch of the earth. [It] spans the entire history of the world, weaving both cultural and biological evolution into the ambitious narrative. At its core are timely questions we would all do well to consider: Is it in our best interest to dominate Earth? Are we creating a future we want to live in?andquot;
andquot;While the world suffers from natural disasters, inflated energy costs, and unsustainable consumption patterns, the Ehrlichs make hopeful suggestions for sustainability and reduced vulnerability.andquot;
andquot;Covering a vast swathe of disciplines, from genetics, evolution and ecology to climatology, economics and global politics, the book almost reads like a primer for the concerned citizen.... This marvellous compendium should be required reading.andquot;
andquot;The Ehrlichs, in The Dominant Animal, cover an enormous amount of scientific ground in looking at both the big picture in terms of environmental dangers and challenges while also offering detailed explanations of how humans have evolved, both genetically and culturally, within our environment. The book relates precise science in easily understandable terms.andquot;
andquot;Buy this for your next seminar class.... or be inspired and make an undergraduate course out of it...Yes, youand#39;ve read some of this before, but not all of it, and not told so well, or with such passion and humor.andquot;
andquot;One of the essential books of 2008.... The Ehrlichs walk you through a basic course in evolution and genetics before moving into a cultural evolution and its devastating impact on ecosystems, worldwide.andquot;
andquot;Imagine a UN Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior! This an important and sobering workandhellip;andquot;
andquot;This sparkling book is a great guide to whatand#39;s essential about humans, the world, and how they affect each other. Along the way, youand#39;ll pick up delicious tidbits such as what Mussoliniand#39;s basic problem was, and why we are so sure that tiny sequoia seeds grow into 300-foot sequoia trees even though no one has ever seen it happen.andquot;
andquot;No other scientific couple could produce a book of this brilliance on where we came from and where weand#39;re going. The Ehrlichs, who have been at the cutting edge of the science, have interwoven evolutionary history and our environmental dilemma into a compelling and vital story.andquot;
“This is a grand tour of the current state of ecological science, and a tour de force of observation, insight, and suggestion.”
John P. Holdren, Director, The Woods Hole Research Center - and Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, Harvard University
One of the "Best of 2008 Sci-Tech Books" Peter H. Raven - President, Missouri Botanical Garden
andquot;Their latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment, continues to drum home the message that humans are on a collision course with ecological catastrophe. But whatand#39;s new and notable is the dual biological and cultural lens the Ehrlichs use to diagnose the underlying cause of our predicament... the book left me wanting moreandmdash;hungry for revolutionary new insights whose very existence would shine the right way forward. If weand#39;d listened to Ehrlich 40 years ago, perhaps weand#39;d already be on that path.andquot;
"Best of 2008 Sci-Tech Books"
Peter H. Raven - President, Missouri Botanical Garden
andquot;Best of 2008 Sci-Tech Booksandquot;
"Best of 2008 Sci-Tech Books"
Renowned Stanford scientists Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich believe that intelligently addressing todayand#8217;s great environmental and social challenges requires a clear understanding of how we evolved and how weand#8217;re changing the planet. The Dominant Animal offers readers that knowledge, tracing the interplay between environmental change and genetic and cultural evolution since the dawn of humanity. Tackling the fundamental challenge of the human predicament, Paul and Anne Ehrlich offer a vivid and unique exploration of our origins, our evolution, and our future.
About the Author
Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. The author of Human Natures
, The Population Bomb
, and many other books, as well as hundreds of papers, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of numerous international honors, including the Crafoord Prize, an explicit substitute for the Nobel Prize in fields of science in which the latter is not given.
Anne H. Ehrlich is affiliated with Stanford's Department of Biological Sciences and Center for C6onservation Biology. She has served on the board of the Sierra Club and other conservation organizations, has coauthored more than ten books with her husband (including One with Nineveh), and is a recipient of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the United Nations Environment Programme\Sasakawa Environment Prize.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Darwin's Legacy and Mendel's Mechanism
Chapter 2. The Entangled Bank
Chapter 3. Fossils and Our Distant Past
Chapter 4. Cultural Evolution and#150; It's Not All in the Genes
Chapter 5. Cultural Evolution: How It Works
Chapter 6. Perception: How Much Of The Outside Gets In?
Chapter 7. Differences: How We Deal with Them
Chapter 8. Births, Deaths, and Migrations: The Dynamics of Populations
Chapter 9. History as Cultural Evolution
Chapter 10. Cultural Change, Diversification, and Conservatism
Chapter 11. Our Biophysical Environment
Chapter 12. Ecosystems and Human Domination of Earth
Chapter 13. Population, Consumption, and the Environment
Chapter 14. A New Imperative
Chapter 15. Altering the Global Atmosphere
Chapter 16. Energy: Are We Running Out of It?
Chapter 17. Saving Our Natural Capital
Chapter 18. Governance: Tackling the Unanticipated Consequences