Inheritors of the Earth
Human activity has irreversibly changed the natural environment. But the news isn't all bad.It's accepted wisdom today that human beings have permanently damaged the natural world, causing extinction, deforestation, pollution, and of course climate change. But in Inheritors of the Earth, biologist Chris Thomas shows that this obscures a more hopeful truth--we're also helping nature grow and change. Human cities and mass agriculture have created new places for enterprising animals and plants to live, and our activities have stimulated evolutionary change in virtually every population of living species. Most remarkably, Thomas shows, humans may well have raised the rate at which new species are formed to the highest level in the history of our planet.Drawing on the success stories of diverse species, from the ochre-colored comma butterfly to the New Zealand pukeko, Thomas overturns the accepted story of declining biodiversity on Earth. In so doing, he questions why we resist new forms of life, and why we see ourselves as unnatural. Ultimately, he suggests that if life on Earth can recover from the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, it can survive the onslaughts of the technological age. This eye-opening book is a profound reexamination of the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Inheritors of the Earth Details

TitleInheritors of the Earth
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherPublicAffairs
ISBN-139781610397278
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Audiobook, Biology, Environment

Inheritors of the Earth Review

  • Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
    January 1, 1970
    4 solid stars even though I have (temporarily) DNF'd @39%.....'the story of life on Earth is one of never-ending change'...Inheritors of the Earth will be moved to my 'started but pick up again later' shelf as I have the upmost respect for the unique way our ever-changing world is portrayed by ecologist, Chris D Thomas.'Wherever in the world you are reading this book, you would once have been surrounded by an impressive array of staggeringly large animals'.Never have I read a statement so though 4 solid stars even though I have (temporarily) DNF'd @39%.....'the story of life on Earth is one of never-ending change'...Inheritors of the Earth will be moved to my 'started but pick up again later' shelf as I have the upmost respect for the unique way our ever-changing world is portrayed by ecologist, Chris D Thomas.'Wherever in the world you are reading this book, you would once have been surrounded by an impressive array of staggeringly large animals'.Never have I read a statement so thought-provoking in a non-fiction book. It made me look out my window, imagining what I would see if I turned the clock back a few million years.I'm always tuning in to TV documentaries about nature and this fantastic world we are all honoured to be part of. Inheritors of the Earth caught my eye on NetGalley. I thought that reading a documentary style book would feed my brain and satisfy my yearning to try and understand planet earth just that little bit more. I was fascinated by the fact that 'nature is fighting back'.Mankind has altered our planet over millions of years, but instead of exploring the negative impact, the author instead gives an account of how the flora and fauna has learned to adapt and thrive in this forever changing world.Like a lot of non-fics that are bursting with facts, figures and fantastic photography, this one doesn't disappoint. I will say, however, that e-ARC's of this kind are not at their best, this would undoubtedly be a five star hardback. In the format of an e-book, which lacks flow (no fault of the author/editor) it is heavy-going for me. At just under half way, I was feeling bogged down with information overload.Let me just say, this is absolutely without a doubt a truly brilliant and unique account of Earths past, present and future which deserves all the stars. Unfortunately, I am unable to finish it because my brain simply cannot take it! I got as far as 39%, and I began to forget everything I'd read, apart from the wonderful detailed account of the hardy Sparrow. It's all my own doing, the book is not to blame. As a 'coffee-table' book, this is perfection. If I owned this in all its hardback glory, over a (long!) period of time, I would read it all. Bite-sizing this would satisfy me more than a cover-to-cover approach.I will be keeping this on my kindle, and will read occasionally, it deserves to be savoured because there is stacks to learn, just not all in one go.I would highly recommend it to students that are studying environmental subjects, and those with a real in-depth passion for conservation. It's not a light read, little ol' me just hasn't got space on my brain hard drive to store it all. I'd need much more RAM to be able to process it all satisfactorily.I'd like to thank the author, Chris D Thomas and the publisher, Perseus Books for the opportunity to read this, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I'm not giving up on it, what I did read was faultless, I shall continue at some point in the future.
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  • Raquel
    January 1, 1970
    Most natural history books focus heavily on losses in biological diversity, with some arguing we are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction. In Inheritors of the Earth, Thomas describes how our planet is changing as a result of human activity. “We have altered the great chemical cycles of the Earth beyond their historical bounds, acidified the oceans and changed the climate of the entire planet, threatening any species that cannot adjust.”However, this is not the focus of the book. Thomas’ goa Most natural history books focus heavily on losses in biological diversity, with some arguing we are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction. In Inheritors of the Earth, Thomas describes how our planet is changing as a result of human activity. “We have altered the great chemical cycles of the Earth beyond their historical bounds, acidified the oceans and changed the climate of the entire planet, threatening any species that cannot adjust.”However, this is not the focus of the book. Thomas’ goal is to share the journey of the adapters. The species that survive and thrive in an epoch dominated by human activity. Thomas discusses major human-caused changes, such as habitat destruction, climate change, and biological invasion, and how some plant and animal species have evolved to overcome these challenges. “Nature is fighting back.”Inheritors of the Earth ends with a focus on conservation efforts. However, instead of arguing for the preservation of diminishing species, Thomas focuses more on embracing biological change while identifying interventions to address the causes of these changes. He considers this more of an “antithesis of traditional conservation thinking”.While Thomas provides some real world examples throughout the book I felt like some areas were lacking, particularly in the last part of the book where he proposes new ways of conserving species. There is some current research on these topics he could have included to give readers a more concrete idea of where the future may be heading, such as his short discussion on using genetic modification technologies. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and gave it 4/5 stars. It is a good complement to the current literature on the changing environmental landscape. Thomas tells the story of the Earth’s gains without ignoring the immense losses or dismissing current conservation strategies. *I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting review at WSJ By Jennie Erin Smith:https://www.wsj.com/articles/picking-..."When talking about the latest chapter of Earth’s history, or what they’re calling the Anthropocene epoch, ecologists tend to strike a tone of despair. They bemoan the human activity that has warmed the planet’s climate, altered its physical surface and the chemical composition of its seas, and fostered invasions by non-native plants and animals, pushing huge numbers of species closer to extinction. But a hand Interesting review at WSJ By Jennie Erin Smith:https://www.wsj.com/articles/picking-..."When talking about the latest chapter of Earth’s history, or what they’re calling the Anthropocene epoch, ecologists tend to strike a tone of despair. They bemoan the human activity that has warmed the planet’s climate, altered its physical surface and the chemical composition of its seas, and fostered invasions by non-native plants and animals, pushing huge numbers of species closer to extinction. But a handful of thinkers, among them scientists and heads of large conservation groups, has begun to preach against pessimism. Given that much of this change is irreversible, they say, more flexible approaches— and sunnier attitudes—are required. " Fred Pearce's book covers much the same ground: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...-- and it will be interesting to see what a biologist has to say on the topic. Pearce is a journalist, albeit a well-informed one, and his book is a little, well, clunky.
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  • Elentarri
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting 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 failu This is an interesting 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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  • E
    January 1, 1970
    This is by far the most fascinating book I have read in a while. If you are a Darwinist and believe in natural selection, how on earth could you object to how humans are affecting our planet? You can't believe in "survival of the fittest" and then object to the possible endangerment of the lesser sage grouse. In other words, you can't have it both ways. Thomas doesn't come out and say this quite so plainly, but it is the inescapable conclusion of his work, which focuses on how life on earth is d This is by far the most fascinating book I have read in a while. If you are a Darwinist and believe in natural selection, how on earth could you object to how humans are affecting our planet? You can't believe in "survival of the fittest" and then object to the possible endangerment of the lesser sage grouse. In other words, you can't have it both ways. Thomas doesn't come out and say this quite so plainly, but it is the inescapable conclusion of his work, which focuses on how life on earth is doing just fine in the Anthropocene epoch, thank you very much.The book is a bit repetitive, but each chapter was interesting. He begins by looking at major ways in which humans affect other species. In these first four chapters he discusses raising animals for food, clearing habitats for agriculture and development, raising the temperature of the atmosphere by a whopping one degree centigrade, and transporting plants and animals to different parts of the world. All of these tasks increase the diversity of species in any given place. Will some go extinct? Sure. But you'll still have greater worldwide diversity. Species are far more likely to adapt and even form hybrid or new species than they are to die out.One of Thomas' biggest pet peeves (and mine) is people's efforts to repristinate biomes. If you believe the world is billions of years old (which I don't), why would you act like the world right before modern man showed up was its "natural" state? There's no such thing. The world is always changing. Who cares if you plant asian species in the midwestern United States? Especially if you think Homo homo sapiens are just another species (which I don't).? Why is what we do any different than a squirrel moving a nut from here to there? When is the artificial cut-off line to be drawn? There are islands in New Zealand where conservationists are trying to get rid of all mammals because there are "invasive." Well, everything is invasive!In the next chapters, Thomas looks at some of the species that are doing very well in the age of man, and others that are not. He looks at species that have adapted where they are, and others that have adapted elsewhere (pine trees protected like crazy on the Monterrey peninsula are now grown all over the place in the southern hemisphere, for one example). In the final chapters he looks at what man should do (realize that we are part of the world, not some invader that has messed up everything; this will profoundly affect how we deal with the species around us).Make no mistake, Thomas loves nature. He doesn't want to see endangered species fall by the wayside (I'll let the reader decide for himself if this is an inconsistency in his thinking). But he also doesn't want us to be unrealistic about how we interact with it (or, are a part of it). It will do what it will do. No reason to play God.Obviously there are some fundamental presuppositions that I do not share with this author, but nevertheless I found this a great read. It should knock some sense into any conservationist who takes the time to read it.
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  • George Christie
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, every biology student should read this book, it's that thought provoking. That being said, the basic premise of the book, that spreading species across the globe will eventually end up creating vast numbers of new species, is more of an essay subject than a book, and I often felt he was simply using a slightly different example to say the same thing he'd said ten pages ago. Thomas rightfully points out that size the first cells diverged in one at or another, species have always moved, they Okay, every biology student should read this book, it's that thought provoking. That being said, the basic premise of the book, that spreading species across the globe will eventually end up creating vast numbers of new species, is more of an essay subject than a book, and I often felt he was simply using a slightly different example to say the same thing he'd said ten pages ago. Thomas rightfully points out that size the first cells diverged in one at or another, species have always moved, they have always gone extinct, and they have always evolved. It is pointless to bemoan what has always been and it is pointless to pretend there is some perfect, natural past to which we should aspire. Mammoths are gone, as are many other species, and temperatures have sufficiently changed (as have both ocean and air chemistry) to make a return to a pre-industrial past impossible.So, let's embrace the positives as well as attempt to ameliorate the negatives. Thomas certainly doesn't suggest wiping out species, but neither does he encourage trying to save the tiny remnants of the obviously doomed (the New Zealand South Island takahē is particularly noted for being unlikely to survive). Of course, he doesn't discuss the California condor, which may well be brought back from the near-dead (from 27 to over 400 individuals) or the whooping crane (approximately 20 individuals to over 600). In failing to do so, he does conservation efforts a disservice--how is one to know if an effort is worthwhile until one has tried?My other problem is that he analyzes species numbers without delving too much into species interactions or ecosystem stability. Sure there will be more species in ten thousand years, but will we gain or lose viable habitats in the meantime. Adding species may well reduce a given area's ability to support human life, a far more immediate issue than the number of sparrow species present in 25,000 human generations. My guess is he feels the negative impacts of moving species have been thoroughly described, whereas few if any writers have championed the value of the changes that have occurred. Regardless, this is the type of book that is perfect for presenting a balanced picture of human effects on biodiversity. Not all species expansions are bad--as he points out there are species that are dying out where they used to live but are thriving elsewhere. If other species have to give up a little room, then so be it. He notes that it is rare indeed to show that one species went extinct when another arrived (with the notable exception of people).A book that is sure to challenge the established notions of any student of ecology. A worthy read.
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  • Genetic Cuckoo
    January 1, 1970
    *Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*Inheritors of the Earth is a fantastic book. The look and feel of this book is wonderful, and the premise is surprisingly different and positive. At first, I was unconvinced, as nature readers are more familiar with the typical story of mass extinction caused my human development and change. But this book really made me think about the disappearance and creation of new species in a different and more logic *Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*Inheritors of the Earth is a fantastic book. The look and feel of this book is wonderful, and the premise is surprisingly different and positive. At first, I was unconvinced, as nature readers are more familiar with the typical story of mass extinction caused my human development and change. But this book really made me think about the disappearance and creation of new species in a different and more logical manner. We are all familiar with beautiful and iconic species which are endangered, and the extreme money and efforts spent to save them, often fighting a losing battle. This book really opened my eyes to the potential good of invasive species and hybrids, which have traditionally been condemned. In fact, later sections of the book explain how the transport of endangered species to other locations and climates can secure a species survival and how the movement and change of a species is natural, it is just the human era has sped this up. I really appreciate the positive look this book takes, it does not go to the opposite extreme advocating for no conservation, but instead suggest an approach with would work with nature and evolution, rather than against it, to secure a species survival and to best increase diversity. This book is well thought-out and researched, and I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in nature conservation, or studying biology or zoology at university. This book would also be ideal for friends and family who want to volunteer their time or money for natural causes, as they could hear an alternative view which could influence the causes they choose to support. This book is really well written and has a personal touch, which makes it more relatable.
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very important book as it brings an evolved way of approaching questions of conservation and ecology to light. The author Chris D.Thomas, a professor of conservation biology at the University of York, a member of the Royal Society and recipient of the British Ecological Society's President's medal, lays out many examples of life forms moving and being moved all over the planet over the geologic past. His examples make it clear that we need to stop looking at animals and plants that are This is a very important book as it brings an evolved way of approaching questions of conservation and ecology to light. The author Chris D.Thomas, a professor of conservation biology at the University of York, a member of the Royal Society and recipient of the British Ecological Society's President's medal, lays out many examples of life forms moving and being moved all over the planet over the geologic past. His examples make it clear that we need to stop looking at animals and plants that are not local in a viewpoint of a few hundred or thousand years as invaders. This is not an anti book but an evolution of thinking that he makes a good case for.
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  • Lada
    January 1, 1970
    This is a totally brazen book which will (repetitively) instruct you to stop worrying and learn to love invasive species, hybridization, release of GMOs, global warming and other man-made changes, even as it claims to not be doing so. Man *is* nature. It gives one something to think about. I thought nature might eventually recover from humans, but this books argues that many species (not just rats) are arriving and thriving thanks to us.
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