Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face

Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face

Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face

Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face

Synopsis

Coral reefs are on track to become the first ecosystem actually eliminated from the planet. So says leading ecologist Peter F. Sale in this crash course on the state of the planet. Sale draws from his own extensive work on coral reefs, and from recent research by other ecologists, to explore the many ways we are changing the earth and to explain why it matters. Weaving into the narrative his own firsthand field experiences around the world, Sale brings ecology alive while giving a solid understanding of the science at work behind today's pressing environmental issues. He delves into topics including overfishing, deforestation, biodiversity loss, use of fossil fuels, population growth, and climate change while discussing the real consequences of our growing ecological footprint. Most important, this passionately written book emphasizes that a gloom-and-doom scenario is not inevitable, and as Sale explores alternative paths, he considers the ways in which science can help us realize a better future.

Excerpt

My neighbor and I were mowing our lawns one morning in the spring of 2005. We paused to talk. It was an early spring; the grass was growing furiously. I commented that unusual weather is what we should come to expect with climate change. His response floored me—climate change was nothing to worry about, and humans weren’t responsible anyway. When I pressed, he replied that from what he could deduce from the newspapers, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists were convinced there was nothing serious going on. I tried to suggest he had it backward, that the great majority thought the problem was serious. I realized then that intelligent members of the public were not well informed on the matter. That same spring, while teaching a new community ecology course to senior undergraduates, I saw that even life science majors were frequently ill informed. Most were either naively committed conservationists or sublimely comfortable in a worldview that admitted no concerns about environmental matters. That spring, I decided to write this book.

Since that time, there has been enormous growth in information and interest about climate change, although many people remain unconvinced. Books on climate change tend to deal with it in isolation from all the other things we are doing to the environment, and this tendency to avoid confronting the full spectrum of problems makes our situation seem less critical than it really is. As I wrote . . .

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