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.)
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