Life of Earth

Life of Earth

Portrait of A Beautiful, Middle-aged, Stressed-out World

Book - 2010/11/01
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Random House, Inc.
In this portrait of Planet Earth—at just about the mid point of its probable lifespan—a biologist discusses the evolution of the network of life and the crucial role played by humans in determining the future of our world.

Unlike most books on earth history, which present the story of life on our planet in terms of one chronological period after another, the author discusses Earth’s teeming diversity in terms of pivotal evolutionary developments. Among these he stresses the importance of symbiosis, sex, and altruism as key determinants of the Earth’s biodiversity.

Symbiosis—when single cells began working together—sparked the sudden appearance of complex animals. Much later symbiotic relationships led to flowering plants that depended on animals for pollination and seed dispersal.

With the advent of sexual selection, there developed an astonishing world of complex behavior and a dizzying array of life forms. In humans, sexual selection exerted a great influence on the development of our large brains.

Altruism—when species learned to work together—resulted in even greater variety and complexity. In early humans, altruism gave rise to ever-widening social circles and the spread of culture.

The author also discusses the role of photosynthesis in establishing and maintaining life on earth; the evidence for ancient natural catastrophes, which caused widespread extinctions; and the importance of religion and the recent use of scientific reasoning in the development and the future of the human species.

This eloquent, panoramic perspective is well designed to foster an appreciation for the scope of life on Earth and to encourage wise stewardship of the natural world on which our survival depends.

Book News
This readable, comprehensive discussion of evolutionary biology attempts to paint a universal picture of life on earth through an examination of specific biological breakthroughs. Structured around important turning points in biological development rather than as a linear narrative, the work stresses the role of key processes, symbiosis, sexual selection and species altruism, as fundamental way points for rapid and complex development in the history of life. The work continues its theme into more recent times, looking at the advent of religion and science as similar game changing moments in human history. Rice is a professor of biology at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell Publishing
In this portrait of Planet Earth, biologist Stanley A. Rice discusses the evolution of the global network of life and the crucial role played by humans in determining the future of our world.

Unlike most books on Earth's history, which present the story of life on our planet in terms of one chronological period after another, Rice discusses the Earth's teeming diversity in terms of pivotal evolutionary developments.

Rice also discusses the role of photosynthesis in establishing and maintaining life on Earth; the evidence for ancient natural catastrophes, which caused widespread extinctions; as well as the importance of religion, the recent use of scientific reasoning in human development, and the critical role our species continues to play in the future of the planet.

Human history represents only a tiny sliver of our planet's cosmic existence, a relationship Rice depicts by comparing the presence of human life on Earth (the width of a thumb) to the width of North America. But, as it happens, humans represent the most incredibly complex development and interweaving of not only sexual selection and altruism but also religion and reason---more than in any other species that has ever lived on the planet. Life of Earth, therefore, is actually an intimate story about us, and we humans are tremendously captivated by intriguing accounts of our own history.

Rice's engaging approach is well designed to foster an appreciation for the scope of life on our planet and to encourage wise stewardship of the natural world on which our very survival depends.

Publisher: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2010/11/01
ISBN: 9781616142254
1616142251
Branch Call Number: 570 RIC
Characteristics: 255 p

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