Terra

Terra

Our 100-million-year-old Ecosystem--and the Threats That Now Put It at Risk

Book - 2007
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A paleontologist awakens us to the "extinction event" that human activity is bringing about today   The natural world as humans have always known it evolved close to 100 million years ago, with the appearance of flowering plants and pollinating insects during the age of the dinosaurs. Its tremendous history is now in danger of profound, catastrophic disruption. InTerra, a brilliant synthesis of evolutionary biology, paleontology, and modern environmental science, Michael Novacek shows how all three can help us understand and prevent what he (and others) call today's "mass extinction event."   Humanity's use of land, our consumption, the pollution we create, and our contributions to global warming are causing this crisis. True, the fossil record of hundreds of millions of years reveals that wild and bounteous nature has always evolved not quietly but thunderously, as species arise, flourish, die off, and are replaced by new species. We learn from paleontology and archaeology that for 50,000 years, human hunting, mining, and agriculture have changed many localities, sometimes irrevocably. But today, Novacek insists, our behavior endangers the entire global ecosystem. And if we disregard--through ignorance, antipathy, or apathy--the theory of evolution that developed with our modern understanding of the Earth's past, we not only impede enlightenment but threaten any practical strategy for our own survival.   The evolutionary future of the entire living planet depends on our understanding this. Michael Novacek, Senior Vice President and Provost of Science atthe American Museum of Natural History, is the author ofTime TravelerandDinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs. He lives in New York City. The natural world as humans have always known it evolved close to 100 million years ago, with the appearance of flowering plants and pollinating insects during the age of the dinosaurs. Its tremendous history is now in danger of profound, catastrophic disruption. InTerra, a brilliant synthesis of evolutionary biology, paleontology, and modern environmental science, Michael Novacek shows how all three can help us understand and prevent what he (and others) call today's "mass extinction event." Humanity's harmful overuse of land and natural resources, the pollution our activities create, and our contributions to global warming are causing this crisis. True, the fossil record of hundreds of millions of years reveals that wild and bounteous nature has always evolved not quietly but thunderously, as species arise, flourish, die off, and are replaced by new species. Paleontology also teaches us that for fifty thousand years, hunting, mining, and agriculture have reduced biodiversity and changed many locales, sometimes irrevocably. But today, Novacek insists, our behavior endangers the entire global ecosystem. Novacek has hope, however. Physicists, geologists, and biologists are working with paleontologists to better understand the precise dynamics by which previous extinction events occurred--and this modern scientific understanding of Earth's past can help us cope with the future. This is also the science that queries, tests, and over and over again proves Darwin's theory of evolution. If we disregard that theory--through ignorance, antipathy, or apathy--wenot only impede enlightenment but threaten any pratical strategy for own survival, let alone the survival of nature as the world has known it for 100 million years.  The evolutionary future of the entire living planet depends on our understanding this. "Terrais a much-needed
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374273255
0374273251
Branch Call Number: 576.84 NOVACEK
Characteristics: xxiv, 451 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Terra

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