Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet Hardcover – April 5, 2011
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, he has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many books. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and in 2006 won the NSW Premier’s Literary Prizes for Best Critical Writing and Book of the Year.
He received a Centenary of Federation Medal for his services to Australian science and in 2002 delivered the Australia Day address. In 2005 he was named Australian Humanist of the Year, and in 2007 honoured as Australian of the Year.
He spent a year teaching at Harvard, and is a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, a director of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and the National Geographic Society’s representative in Australasia. He serves on the board of WWF International (London and Gland) and on the sustainability advisory councils of Siemens (Munich) and Tata Power (Mumbai).
In 2007 he co-founded and was appointed Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, a coalition of community, business, and political leaders who came together to confront climate change.
Tim Flannery is currently Professor of Science at Maquarie University, Sydney.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If I understand Flannery correctly, he is arguing that what we believe will determine our future more than our ever-expanding technology. If we human beings are destroying our environment by our reckless exploitation of the earth's natural resources, it is because we do not understand how we arrived at this moment in history.
Professor Flannery is an evolutionist. But, he argues that the process of evolution has been widely misunderstood. He illustrates this misunderstanding--what Darwin referred to as "descent with modification"--by contrasting Charles Darwin with Alfred Russel Wallace--the detailed scientist with the grand synthesizer.
Darwin and Wallace were "co-founders" of the modern theory of evolution. As evolution gained widespread acceptance during the last half of the nineteenth century, scientists and non-scientists alike emphasized the idea of struggle and survival of the fittest. Flannery contends that it was, and is, the perversion of Darwin and Wallace's theories by Herbert Spencer and the so-called "Social Darwinists" that has resulted in the willful destruction of the environment.
The idea of progress through a bloody struggle for survival provided a convenient justification for imperialism, racism, eugenics, the evils of uncontrolled capitalism, etc. Many at the turn of the twentieth century, like the founder of mathematical statistics, the Englishman Karl Pearson, believed that an evolutionary struggle resulted in the rise of civilization. Without struggle, civilization would stagnate. "You may wish for a time when the sword will be turned into the ploughshare," said Pearson in a 1900 lecture on Social Darwinism, "[b]ut, believe, me, when that day comes mankind will no longer progress."
Flannery argues that evolutionary progress depends on cooperation, not struggle. Human beings, like all living things, are a part of an "interdependent community." This very intricate network of interdependencies, which some might refer to as a "balance in nature," is our world, the environment we live in and help to create.
Flannery refers to the Gaia theory, first developed by James Lovelock, the English climate scientist and futurologist. He uses Lovelock's Gaia theory to aid the reader in understanding the critical nature of this moment in the earth's history. According to Lovelock, the earth is best thought of as a living organism, "a self-regulating system made up from the totality of organisms, the surface rocks, the ocean and the atmosphere tightly coupled as an evolving system." The result is an environment on the surface of the earth that is always favorable for life as it exists at any given moment.
To understand the earth as a self-regulating, single living system can affect the future of the earth as the abode of human beings. Will we see our role as a struggle for survival of the fittest, or will we view our role as but one part of a very intricate interdependency, the goal of which is cooperation and survival of the organism, itself? Simply put, the self-regulating system can become overwhelmed by sudden changes in the system, changes that could be so great and sudden as to not allow the organism to accommodate to them. Put another way, human beings are in danger of rendering--through excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, for example--the earth's surface unsuitable for life as we know it.
It is this scenario introduced in the first of the six of the sections (totaling twenty-three chapters) that I found most interesting. Although I do not subscribe to an evolutionary theory of origins, I did find Here on Earth a very interesting and thought-provoking read. Professor Flannery is a good writer. He knows how to hold the reader's interest as he tells his story. His talent in communicating his story is evident in the popularity of his more than a dozen books.
Flannery is correct in asserting that our worldview determines our actions. If we perceive earth to be an object for our conquest and exploitation, we will act one way. If we perceive the earth as a complex system of interdependencies of which human beings are only a part, then we will act differently. Our future depends upon our understanding of the planet we inhabit.
Was it biased toward Global Warming theory? Yes, absolutely, but what I have trouble understanding is why those who disagree with the theory have trouble with the idea of conservation of resources, as well as doing our best to prevent pollution and dangerous emissions? Regardless of whether you're a supporter of Global Warming or not, is there harm in taking better care of the Earth? Seems like two stand-alone issues, to me. It's like saying I don't think I'll ever get cancer, so why bother taking care of myself? Sorry, but the logic there eludes me. And no one can argue we aren't doing damage: plant and animal species are disappearing at a frightening rate, mercury is poisoning our fish, thus we are poisoning ourselves, and on and on and on. Not really a Global Warming theory, taken by itself, but rather a question of how we're treating the planet, and what sort of world we hand on to our children. If we can pass along a better legacy, why should we not? He expresses that very well:
"The tendency to discount the future helps explain why people sometimes act to destroy their environment, whether by cutting down rainforests, continuing to pollute the atmosphere or destroying biodiversity. And people without prospects are created in a number of ways - through grinding poverty, through greatly unequal societies and through war, famine or other misfortunes. If you're concerned about our future, it's not just desirable that we eradicate poverty in the developing world, created more equal societies and never let ourselves fight another war; it's imperative, for the discount factor tells us that failure to do so may cost us the Earth."
Key word, for those who find this oversteps, is MAY.
I found the book very well-written. I'm not saying I agree with all the opinions expressed throughout, but I don't need to in order to see this as a worthwhile and entertaining basic history of the planet. I'm not particularly a Global Warming theorist, but I'm not completely not, either. I recognize my ignorance of the science supporting both sides; I don't presume to put my own opinion up as fact, and admit it would be an uneducated opinion. Flannery makes some intriguing statements. Maybe he's right, and maybe not in all cases, but my mind is open to hearing him.
Also note, Tim Flannery is a University professor. He is a scientist. Some have criticized him for his bias, and I won't argue that, but the man isn't some random person off the street. His credentials can't exactly be questioned. And the book is supported by footnotes; it's not an opinion piece.
Tim Flannery's intent was to write a natural history, skimming along very quickly, and he accomplished that objective in an easy-to-read, fascinating and very well-written book. As such, I'm happy to give him the full five stars.
Most recent customer reviews
The author's descriptions of James Lovelock's Gaia Theory or Earth System...Read more