The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment

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Island Press, Jun 22, 2012 - Science - 472 pages
2 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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Niecierpek - LibraryThing

It was ok, but on the whole lacked focus. The title suggested something else than the book delivered. It delivered a warning about the ecological state of the planet, but it delivered its message in a ... Read full review

The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Paul Ehrlich, a world-renowned professor of population studies and biological sciences at Stanford University, is well known for his dismal view of the future written in the 1968 work The Population ... Read full review

Contents

Note on the Paperback Edition
1
Prologue
3
Darwins Legacy and Mendels Mechanism
9
The Entangled Bank
35
Our Distant Past
54
Of Genes and Culture
68
Cultural Evolution How We Relate to One Another
97
Perception Evolution and Beliefs
119
A New Imperative
234
Altering the Global Atmosphere
255
Energy Are We Running Out of It?
290
Saving Our Natural Capital
310
Governance Tackling Unanticipated Consequences
331
Epilogue
363
Postscript
369
Glossary
377

The Ups and Downs of Populations
140
History as Cultural Evolution
158
Cycles of Life and Death
172
Ecosystems and Human Domination of Earth
193
Consumption and Its Costs
207
Notes
401
Selected Bibliography
413
Acknowledgments
437
Index
441
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and professor of biology at Stanford University and a fellow of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics. The author of Human Natures, The Population Bomb, and many other books, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of numerous international honors, including the Crafoord Prize and the MacArthur “genius award.”



Anne H. Ehrlich is affiliated with Stanford's Biology Department and Center for Conservation Biology, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on the board of the Sierra Club and other conservation organizations, has coauthored more than ten books with her husband, and is a recipient of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the United Nations Environment Programme/Sasakawa Environment Prize.


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