From Publishers Weekly
Photojournalist Morrison (Australians Exposed, etc.) turns his attention to science writing in an attempt to describe and understand the world's growing ecological crisis. Though he writes with conviction and passion, he seems very much out of his depth when discussing scientific material. Morrison does an impressive job of summarizing the ways in which humans are altering the planet. He touches on the importance of biodiversity, the declining quality of agricultural lands, ozone destruction, global warming, acid precipitation and overpopulation, as well as a host of other critical issues. But the bulk of his book centers on his belief that virtually every aspect of our behavior is under strict genetic control. We are, in his terms, a plague animal, destined by our genes to reproduce abundantly and then, after destroying our environment, to endure a decimation of the species. As a metaphor, this is powerful stuff. Morrison isn't arguing metaphorically, however; rather, he contends that evolution, which he anthropomorphizes, is pushing us in this direction to protect the rest of the planet from our depredations. His conviction that genes dictate behavior lead him to political conclusions that are, by most lights, distressing. After saying that Hitler's policies arose from his lack of interest in sexual promiscuity, Morrison asserts that "national leaders who are discreetly promiscuous are merely displaying reassuring evidence of their well-balanced ambition and general genetic fitness for leadership." The kindest accurate description of this book is offered by Lynn Margulis in her very brief foreword, in which she refers to Morrison's ideas as "idiosyncratic." 49 b&w photos, 22 drawings, one map.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.