Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Front Cover
Eric Chivian, Aaron Bernstein
OUP USA, May 15, 2008 - Medical - 542 pages
The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health. Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive--and sobering--view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the oceans, depend on biodiversity. The book's ten chapters cover everything from what biodiversity is and how human activity threatens it to how we as individuals can help conserve the world's richly varied biota. Seven groups of organisms, some of the most endangered on Earth, provide detailed case studies to illustrate the contributions they have already made to human medicine, and those they are expected to make if we do not drive them to extinction. Drawing on the latest research, but written in language a general reader can easily follow, Sustaining Life argues that we can no longer see ourselves as separate from the natural world, nor assume that we will not be harmed by its alteration. Our health, as the authors so vividly show, depends on the health of other species and on the vitality of natural ecosystems. With a foreword by E.O. Wilson and a prologue by Kofi Annan, and more than 200 poignant color illustrations, Sustaining Life contributes essential perspective to the debate over how humans affect biodiversity and a compelling demonstration of the human health costs.

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Sustaining life: how human health depends on biodiversity

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This unique work, edited by two Harvard Medical School physicians, explores the symbiotic relationship among the planet's species and how animals, insects, and plants on land and water have provided ... Read full review

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Ancient Organism, Modern Immunity, Antediluvian Concepts
A. From "Ancient organism, modern immunity"
The evolutionary rudiments of the human adaptive immune system could have first appeared in an even more ancient jawed fish whose existence has yet to be revealed in the fossil record...
B. From "Multicells-Life Date Pushed Back,But With Confused Terminology"
Since evolution is definitely driven by culture, the evolution of multicelled organisms was preceded by evolution of cooperative community life culture of the monocelled organisms. Most presently observed biological intercells processes and internal organs in multicelled organisms have originated and evolved much earlier by and during the evolution of the cooperative community life culture of the monocelled organisms...
Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)
Updated Life's Manifest May 2009

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About the author (2008)

Eric Chivian, M.D., is the Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. He shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the lead editor and author of Last Aid: The Medical Dimensions of Nuclear War and Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment.Aaron Bernstein, M.D., is a Research Associate at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and Resident, Boston Combined Residency in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School/Boston University School of Medicine.

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