From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Deeply concerned by humanity's impact on the earth's environment, Flannery indicted climate change in The Weather Makers (2006). Widening his scope in this work, he expands on the proposition that humans inherently exhaust their resources, triggering all manner of ecological and societal trauma. To evaluate the idea, he ranges over the entirety of human existence, remarking within each subtopic he raises for example, the Aborigines' relation to Australian ecosystems the ramifications of human use of available natural resources. From his woeful tales, readers might conclude that Flannery is pessimistic about civilization's survival, and lengthy indeed is his catalog of environmental destruction, historic and contemporary. But another idea, which he evidently borrowed from entomologist E. O. Wilson's The Superorganism (2008), makes him more optimistic. Comparing human behavior with that of ant colonies, Flannery suggests that cooperative action can potentially arise in the cause of environmental sustainability. Wrapping this hope in discussions of evolution and James Lovelock's Gaia theories, Flannery appeals to environmentalists thinking on planet-wide scales about humanity's relation to nature.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Writer, scientist, and explorer Flannery offers a somewhat unusual "natural history of the planet." Beginning with Darwin and moving on to Wallace, Lovelock, Dawkins, etc., Flannery touches on numerous details about Earth and its history and the contributions of various scientists. This is neither a textbook nor a detailed review of the planet's history. The author briefly considers the origins and travels of human ancestors, including the "hobbit" of Flores. He explores the biology and life histories of ants and various plants, especially with regard to their influence on the organic diversity of the world. Flannery focuses particularly on how humans have affected the world, ranging from the usual suspects to some relatively obscure examples of chemical warfare. How are humans changing Earth, and will Earth survive? The presentation is rather choppy, and the text jumps from topic to topic. Yes, humans have created a very unstable world, and reversing some of the damage will require major changes in how humans use the planet. The volume includes a few photographs of people and animals discussed. Flannery has written more than a dozen books, some particularly interesting and useful. Unfortunately, this one is not in the same league. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduates. D. Bardack emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago
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In his latest work, Flannery (The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth), an internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, and conservationist, traces the history of our planet and the evolution of our species with remarkable detail in a "twin biography" format. Flannery is guided by two strands of evolutionary theory-reductionist science as epitomized by Charles Darwin, and the more holistic analyses of Alfred Russel Wallace and James Lovelock-and he believes that these opposing theories reflect the different ways humans approach the custodianship of planet Earth. He describes Earth's formation from the beginning at the moment of the creation with the big bang and the transformation of the ocean from all kinds of metals, which, he believes, are catalysts in the formation of the earliest process of life. VERDICT Flanney's storytelling style of narrative and his razor-sharp observations and expansive knowledge of the subject enliven the material. Highly recommended for science readers.-Norah Xiao, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.