Revolutions that made the Earth,
This review is from: Revolutions that Made the Earth (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In this book the authors, both professors at the University of East Anglia and both former students under James Lovelock, contend that the Earth's ability to sustain intelligent life arose from a handful of major revolutions.
Examining a number of candidates for these revolutionary events the authors whittle the list down to four all of which have certain features broadly in common such as changes in energy processing, material recylcing and information transfer. In addition, all have led to a change in the overall state of the non-living environment and a diversification of the biosphere. The final candidates that they come up with are;
1. Inception - the establishment of the global biosphere and the origin of life.
2. Oxygen - the origin of hydrolytic photosynthesis and "The Great Oxidation"
3. Complexity - the origin and diversification of eukaryotes
4. Us - the emergence of humans and our impact on the environment and what it will take for us to survive it.
The final revolution is only, relatively speaking, just underway so it's impact is not yet clearly understood but if it is to be successful the authors contend that we must learn from previous revolutions and (among other things) increase our re-cycling efforts, our generation of sustainable energy (such as solar and , maybe controversially, including nuclear) and rapidly wean ourselves off of our dependence on fossil fuels.
This is a large book and at times covers some fairly complex science concepts and ideas. However, whilst the book is aimed at readers with a scientific background it's also popular in the sense that little specialist knowledge is required.
I have no real complaints with the book but a geological time scale chart, some more diagrammatic representations of things such as the carbon cycle would've been appreciated additions (as would a glossary).
Overall though, this is a fascinating and learned, but accessible, examination of what it takes to build a habitable world and the interdepence of life and the non-living biosphere as well as what we can learn from this to sustain our own future.