In his rousing, sanguine, and far-reaching new book, Earth in Human Hands, astrobiologist, NASA advisor, and acclaimed science writer David Grinspoon offers an unforgettably singular view of humanity’s simultaneously promising and perilous place on our home planet. The must-read science book of this year… and the next — essential and engrossing! Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For the first time in Earth's history, our planet is experiencing a confluence of rapidly accelerating changes prompted by one species: humans. Climate change is only the most visible of the modifications we've made — up until this point, inadvertently — to the planet. And our current behavior threatens not only our own future but that of countless other creatures. By comparing Earth's story to those of other planets, astrobiologist David Grinspoon shows what a strange and novel development it is for a species to evolve to build machines, and ultimately, global societies with world-shaping influence.
Without minimizing the challenges of the next century, Grinspoon suggests that our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, especially when viewed from a 10,000-year perspective. Our species has surmounted the threat of extinction before, thanks to our innate ingenuity and ability to adapt, and there's every reason to believe we can do so again.
Our challenge now is to awaken to our role as a force of planetary change, and to grow into this task. We must become graceful planetary engineers, conscious shapers of our environment and caretakers of Earth's biosphere. This is a perspective that begs us to ask not just what future do we want to avoid, but what do we seek to build? What kind of world do we want? Are humans the worst thing or the best thing to ever happen to our planet? Today we stand at a pivotal juncture, and the answer will depend on the choices we make.
"David Grinspoon has done it again: cracked open our universe with a scientific inquiry that is as inspiring and engaging as it is profound. Where others see inevitable catastrophe, Grinspoon sees historic opportunity. Grinspoon is a gifted storyteller and his narrative is the rare confluence of authoritative and thought-provoking science and rollicking fun. Earth in Human Hands is a must read for anyone interested in evolution, planetary science, the crisis of the environment, and human survival. Destined to be a classic."
Peter Heller, New York Times bestselling author of The Dog Stars and The Whale Warriors
"Earth in Human Hands is a page-turning masterpiece of speculative nonfiction that will keep new and veteran science aficionados spellbound for hours at a time. It is quite simply the kind of book that can change a young reader's life, or inspire parents and teachers to do the same...Grinspoon ties together a dozen disparate themes pulled from a host of sub-fields seamlessly, making the book a delightful, flowing feast of science and commentary...Given Earth in the title, one might expect the book to revolve solely around our planet, the immediate concerns of humanity, or the growing anxiety voiced by environmentalists and a few scientists over our growing impact on this world. Grinspoon delivers all that with seeming ease. But he takes an epic, cosmic course to do so, one successfully charted by only a handful of visionaries before him. It's a journey that ranges from the planets Venus and Mars, where he deftly reviews the critical contributions NASA and other agencies have added to our understanding of our home by studying these alien worlds, to the farthest reaches of space and time revealed by modern astronomy....The only disappointment was when the last page was turned, and I found myself wishing there was more.If Carl Sagan were alive today, and had available to him all the science done since he left us, this is the book he would write.... Earth in Human Hands is Cosmos for the 21st century, retooled for a new wave of readers, and hopped up on the best science modern research has to offer.... Your copy of this masterpiece is destined to become a familiar friend, proudly dog-eared and creased with age, after being read and reread time after time, and year after year."
"In his wonderful writing style, Dr. Grinspoon spells it out: A single species is inducing more profound changes to our planet than any other organism in geologic history. It's us. If you have family and friends here on Earth, read this book. The Earth is in our hands."
Bill Nye "The Science Guy", New York Times bestselling author of Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World
About the Author
David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. In 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress. He is a frequent advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy, and is on the team for the Curiosity Mars Rover. Grinspoon's writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Scientific American, Seed, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times.