Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Another recommended book for 2016: E.O. Wilson's 'Half-Earth'

by Leigh Pomeroy

I have recommended books in Vox Verax twice already this year, in "Tired of all Trump, all the time? Enlighten yourself with these books" and "Read Shawn Otto's 'The War on Science'". I'm now adding another to the list of the four I've given already: Edward O. Wilson's Half-Earth.

As I grow older I am reading about subjects I spent little attention on in my academic and career years … and, of course, been wondering if I haven't spent most of my life pursuing the wrong interests. But this is a dangerous thought — a waste of time if it goes beyond fleeting moments — because, as I like to say, until time travel becomes a reality, you can't change the past.

Also, what I'm learning now is largely in the realm of recently discovered science, knowledge that wasn't extant when I was an undergraduate in college in the later 1960s. Indeed, much of what I'm reading is about is knowledge that has just gained clarity in the last decade or so.

Half-Earth is written by a man very different from me, an individual who fell in love with insects in his teens in the 1940s and stayed with this interest all his life. Today, at age 87, he still putting out about a book a year.

Half-Earth is his latest and reflects not only his rich understanding of earth's biodiversity but most importantly his absolute focus on saving it. I came to read it because I already believed in what he advocates, but I learned from it many more reasons why.

In short: Homo sapiens is overrunning the planet and in its expansionistic zeal is wiping out other species (some we can see, many we cannot) willy-nilly. The biome may not care whether this happens — mass extinctions have occurred many times throughout the four billion or so years of life on Earth — but this human-induced biocide will come back to haunt us unless we stop it.

I keep coming back to thinking about the idiocy of the current presidential campaign. What a difference between what the media is feeding us and what really is important!

What Wilson tells us in Half-Earth is, well, not only really important but absolutely necessary for human survival.

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