Series: Boston Review Books
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2006)
Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.3 x 7 inches
Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #416,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #93 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Civil & Environmental > Environmental > Pollution #181 in Books > Science & Math > Biological Sciences > Biology > Entomology #1070 in Books > Science & Math > Environment > Environmentalism
Fascinating, if true. This brief, brilliant bold assertion says humans have created an ecological collapse that rivals the extinction of dinosaurs when 76 percent of Earth's life forms went extinct. It's a bold assertion presumably supported by Meyer's academic credentials plus the ethics of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in not suffering fools. Meyer's argument is concise: ". . . humanity has pounded the wild into a shape that fits its needs . . . coexisting with nature has always meant taming it . . . we have lost the wild for now . . . perhaps in five or ten million years it will return." Instead of the wild diversity that now exists, Meyer asserts, "Everyone will enjoy English housed sparrows; no one will enjoy wood thrushes." Okay - - who misses the passenger pigeon? Who knows what it was? How different is our society today because no one has ever seen a live passenger pigeon? Or, in more immediate terms, who would miss the Irish if they vanished? Would the world be richer or poorer without Catalans? What value were the Beothuks? Do we really need the Jews? We know about the Holocust of the Jews and its impact. But who knows about the Beothuks? Likewise,we need an examination of what life on earth will be like without the wood thrush and 75 percent of other species. "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls," wrote John Donne in 1633; this admonition applies to more than our neighbors, it applies to the world around us. Meyer says the bell is tolling. It makes his book fascinating.
The essence of this book is that we must stop the human selection process of species and pursue certain avenues of conservation which actually do work. Its a quick, terse, highly worthwhile read. Its broken into seven short sections, the following quotes being the last line of each. I went ahead and pasted them in from my own notes to give a good taste of the author's writing.1 "The broad path for biological evolution is now set for the next several million years. And in this sense the extinction crisis-- the race to save the composition, structure, and organization of biodiversity as it exists today--is over, and we have lost."2 "Ecosystems will experience a dumbing down as built-in redundancies are eliminated. The web of life will become the strand of life."3 "Thus, climate change and economic globalization are powerful against of human selection that amplify and make irreversible the familiar, localized human disturbances that undermine biodiversity."4 "The wild will cease to exist even if we can manufacture each of its constituent parts."5 "The ecomomic toll from the benign neglect of alien weedy species would be globally disastrous . . and would mean the demise of a large proportion of relic species."6 "What is the essence of our own morality if it fails to encompass most of the earth?"7 "We have lost the wild for now. Perhaps in 5-10 million years it will return."
Great condition, excellent read.
The problem is stated succinctly. It is huge. We are acting as if there is no cost to us as a population. Thenhe States the solution as a bigger version of the same thing we have been doing. In fact there is no solution but delaying the worst impacts of the ultimate destruction of the wild.