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review 2018-06-18 08:27
The End of the Long Summer by Dianne Dumanoski
The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth - Dianne Dumanoski

TITLE:  The End of the Long Summer:  Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth


AUTHOR:  Dianne Dumanoski




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  978-0-307-39609-9



From the blurb:

"For the past twelve thousand years, Earth’s stable climate has allowed human civilization to flourish. But this long benign summer is an anomaly in the Earth’s history and one that is rapidly coming to a close. The radical experiment of our modern industrial civilization is now disrupting our planet’s very metabolism; our future hinges in large part on how Earth responds. Climate change is already bearing down, hitting harder and faster than expected. The greatest danger is not extreme yet discrete weather events, such as Hurricane Katrina or the calamitous wildfires that now plague California, but profound and systemic disruptions on a global scale. Contrary to the pervasive belief that climate change will be a gradual escalator ride into balmier temperatures, the Earth’s climate system has a history of radical shifts–dramatic shocks that could lead to the collapse of social and economic systems.

The question is no longer simply how can we stop climate change, but how can we as a civilization survive it.

The guiding values of modern culture have become dangerously obsolete in this new era. Yet as renowned environmental journalist Dianne Dumanoski shows, little has been done to avert the crisis or to prepare human societies for a time of growing instability. In a work of astonishing scope, Dumanoski deftly weaves history, science, and culture to show how the fundamental doctrines of modern society have impeded our ability to respond to this crisis and have fostered an economic globalization that is only increasing our vulnerability at this critical time. She exposes the fallacy of banking on a last-minute technological fix as well as the perilous trap of believing that humans can succeed in the quest to control nature. Only by restructuring our global civilization based on the principles that have allowed Earth’s life and our ancestors to survive catastrophe——diversity, redundancy, a degree of self-sufficiency, social solidarity, and an aversion to excessive integration——can we restore the flexibility needed to weather the trials ahead.

In this powerful and prescient book, Dumanoski moves beyond now-ubiquitous environmental buzzwords about green industries and clean energy to provide a new cultural map through this dangerous passage. Though the message is grave, it is not without hope. Lucid, eloquent, and urgent, The End of the Long Summer deserves a place alongside transformative works such as Silent Spring and The Fate of the Earth.




This is a clearly written and well-organized book that that describes how our current planetary civilization must  transition to the "Planetary Era." This is the era in which we are currently living, in which the human species forced Earth's living planetary system beyond its normal operating range, and in which we must face the future together as a global community.  Dianne Dumanoski explains how climate change, pollution, ozone layer destruction, species loss etc are all just symptoms of a larger problem, and suggests means to restructure human society to cope with fast-changing planetary systems. 


Dumanoski discusses everythig from the Ozone Hole issue, ice core data, historic climate change, the rise of civilization, geoengineering, and the vulnerability and apathy of governments to plan for the future.  She also discusses the survivability of human civiilization in a changing world.


I found the book interesting, with minimal hand-wringing by the author.  This is one of the few climate change books that I've come across that deals with the larger picture, looks at where we stand realsitically, and has a long term (though not easy) solution to human survival.


"...in bringing the long summer to a premature close and engaging with vast planetary systems, we have opened the door to nature's return as a major, perhaps decisive force in human history." - Dianne Dumanoski.


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review 2018-04-01 11:17
OCEAN OF LIFE by Callum Roberts
Ocean of Life - Callum Roberts

TITLE:  Ocean of Life:  How Our Seas Are Changing


AUTHOR:  Callum Roberts




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  978-0-241-95070-8



In Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts shows how the oceans have changed - from prehistoric times to today.  His focus is on man-made changes, dealing with such topics as overfishing, destructive fishing methods, plastic and chemical pollution, winds and currents, excessive noise, dead-zones, disease, farm-fish etc.  The book is however, not all doom and gloom. Roberts dedicates the last quarter of his book to methods that may work to restore or at least diminish the negative effects humans have on  ocean life - provided people are willing to implement them.  This is a well-written, articulate, interesting and engaging book, with short chapters covering specific topics.  What happens to the Oceans is relevant to everyone on this planet, and this book provides an eye-opening summary of the importance of the Oceans and how humans have and can effect them for good or ill.


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-03 07:21
Bring Back the King by Helen Pilcher
Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-extinction - Helen Pilcher

TITLE:  Bring Back the King:  The New Science of De-Extinction


AUTHOR:  Helen Pilcher




FORMAT:  ebook


ISBN-13:   978-1-4729-1228-2





In this book, Helen Pilcher takes an introductory look at the science of de-extinction, covering such topics as the de-extinction of dinosaurs, neanderthals, mammoths, a variety of extinct birds, the thylacine, Elvis Presley, as well as some other random questions, ethics and concerns.


The book reads more like a collection of excessively padded magazine articles stuffed into one package. There is also an excessive amount of "cutsie" humour (also bad jokes) in this book which simply falls flat; as well as too many personal intrusions from the author. The discussions of the actual de-extinction science are uneven - some animals are lucky enough to get their situation and the science explained in a fair amount of detail, others will get an over-simplified explanation. The ethics, challenges and if the whole things is a good idea is glossed over in one chapter.


For example:
The majority of the chapter on Neanderthals involves too much author speculation and personal emotion in her speculative story of a neanderthal baby. The chapter on Elvis is just silly and self-indulgent. Pilcher could have found a better way to discuss general genetics and epigenetics, and she oversimplifies what she does write about the topic. The chapter about the white rhino gastric brooding frog are informative, and better written than the others.


This book is easy to read, funny (to other people) and would probably make a good introduction to the subject for people who aren't too particular about the amount of hard science in their popular science books. Teenagers might like it too.


Otherwise, there are a selection of other books on the same topic that are better written:


-Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things by M.R. O'Connor [Deals more with the conservation angle]


-How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro [Includes more physical science involved in de-extinction and all the ethics and possibilities]


-Rise of the Necrofauna: A Provocative Look at the Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray [Focus on the ethics, risks and possibilities of de-extinction science]

- How to Build a Dinosaur: The New Science of Reverse Evolution by Jack Horner & James Gorman



For those interested in epigenetics:


-The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey


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review 2017-10-27 15:09
Rise of the Necrofauna by Britt Wray
Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction - Britt Wray


TITLE:  Rise of the Necrofauna:  The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction


AUTHOR:  Britt Wray


DATE PUBLISHED:  September 2017


FORMAT: epub


ISBN-13:  978-1-77164-163-0





Rise of the Necrofauna is a wonderfully clearly written, enjoyable, extremely interesting, informative and engaging book that takes a broad look at the science, uses, ethics, and risks of de-extinction technology and organisms. Britt Wray provides a nice summary of the current status of the handful of de-extinction projects currently in existence, as well as providing interesting interviews with the scientists currently involved in these projects.


Chapter one provides a summary of the scientific methods involved in the various de-extinction efforts.  I would have preferred more details of the actual methods involved, such as is covered in How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro.  However, what the author does write about the science involved is clear and easily understandable. 


The remainder of the book covers topics on the ethics and uses of this technology, such as: why de-extinction is important; what species are good contenders and why; woolly mammoths and passenger pigeons; possible regulations for de-extinct species; uses of this technology in conservation efforts; and the risks involved.  A great many perspectives are investigated, but what is interesting is that the majority of scientific techniques developed for de-extinction projects has helped other scientific fields as well, and that their may be more than one way to bring back an extinct species or help an endangered species.


Most of the information and examples covered in this book is discussed (in one way or another) in How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro, however, this book is better written even though it doesn't emphasize the science as much.  So, if you have read How to Clone a Mammoth you will probably not gain much more information from this book.  On the other hand, this is a lovely introduction to the concept and reality of de-extinction and its possibilities.



Other Recommended Books:


-Resurrection Science:  Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things by M.R. O'Connor  (well written book that deals more with using de-extinction techniques in conservation efforts).


-How to Clone a Mammoth:  The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro (includes more about the actual science methods involved)


-Once & Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us about the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals by Sharon Levy  (on rewilding)


-Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators by William Stolzenburg (on rewilding)


Interesting Websites





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review 2017-10-23 10:28
Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction by Chris D. Thomas
Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction - Chris D. Thomas

TITLE:  Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction 


AUTHOR:  Chris D. Thomas




FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:   9781610397278




This is an interesting and decently written book that takes a look at the not so doom-and-gloom effects of man's impact on the environment and the ever changing nature of the environment.


The author points out that man is part of nature and man's activities are no different from any other animal, we just use different means to accomplish out goals. He also points out that nature, evolution and the environment are dynamic and ever changing and that conservation efforts that assume nature is static are doomed to failure and go against the natural order of "how things work". Thomas makes use of many examples to make his points, but I felt his chapter arguments could have been more focused. While I don't agree 100% with everything he writes, I felt this book is important in terms of providing food for thought and in shaking up the conservation/environmental people to take a good look at what they are actually trying to accomplish and if the current methods are working.


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