Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

W. W. Norton & Company
7
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"An audacious and concrete proposal…Half-Earth completes the 86-year-old Wilson’s valedictory trilogy on the human animal and our place on the planet." —Jedediah Purdy, New Republic

In his most urgent book to date, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and world-renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson states that in order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet. In this "visionary blueprint for saving the planet" (Stephen Greenblatt), Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature. Identifying actual regions of the planet that can still be reclaimed—such as the California redwood forest, the Amazon River basin, and grasslands of the Serengeti, among others—Wilson puts aside the prevailing pessimism of our times and "speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all" (Oliver Sacks).

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About the author

Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than thirty books, including Half-Earth, The Social Conquest of Earth, The Meaning of Human Existence, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives with his wife, Irene Wilson, in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Mar 7, 2016
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781631490835
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Kinship to Mastery is a fascinating and accessible exploration of the notion of biophilia -- the idea that humans, having evolved with the rest of creation, possess a biologically based attraction to nature and exhibit an innate affinity for life and lifelike processes. Stephen R. Kellert sets forth the idea that people exhibit different expressions of biophilia in different contexts, and demonstrates how our quality of life in the largest sense is dependent upon the richness of our connections with nature.

While the natural world provides us with material necessities -- food, clothing, medicine, clean air, pure water -- it just as importantly plays a key role in other aspects of our lives, including intellectual capacity, emotional bonding, aesthetic attraction, creativity, imagination, and even the recognition of a just and purposeful existence. As Kellert explains, each expression of biophilia shows how our physical, material, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being is to a great extent dependent on our relationships with the natural world that surrounds us.

Kinship to Mastery is a thought-provoking examination of a concept that, while not widely known, has a significant and direct effect on the lives of people everywhere. Because the full expression of biophilia is integral to our overall health, our ongoing destruction of the environment could have far more serious consequences than many people think. In a readable and compelling style, Kellert describes and explains the concept of biophilia, and demonstrates to a general audience the wide-ranging implications of environmental degradation.

Kinship to Mastery continues the exploration of biophilia begun with Edward O. Wilson's landmark book Biophilia (Harvard University Press, 1984) and followed by The Biophilia Hypothesis (Island Press, 1993), co-edited by Wilson and Kellert, which brought together some of the most creative scientists of our time to explore Wilson's theory in depth.

New York Times Bestseller
Finalist for the National Book Award (Nonfiction)

How did humanity originate and why does a species like ours exist on this planet? Do we have a special place, even a destiny in the universe? Where are we going, and perhaps, the most difficult question of all, "Why?"

In The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson grapples with these and other existential questions, examining what makes human beings supremely different from all other species. Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called "the rainbow colors" around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Wilson takes his readers on a journey, in the process bridging science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence—from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends.

Continuing his groundbreaking examination of our "Anthropocene Epoch," which he began with The Social Conquest of Earth, described by the New York Times as "a sweeping account of the human rise to domination of the biosphere," here Wilson posits that we, as a species, now know enough about the universe and ourselves that we can begin to approach questions about our place in the cosmos and the meaning of intelligent life in a systematic, indeed, in a testable way.

Once criticized for a purely mechanistic view of human life and an overreliance on genetic predetermination, Wilson presents in The Meaning of Human Existence his most expansive and advanced theories on the sovereignty of human life, recognizing that, even though the human and the spider evolved similarly, the poet's sonnet is wholly different from the spider's web. Whether attempting to explicate "The Riddle of the Human Species," "Free Will," or "Religion"; warning of "The Collapse of Biodiversity"; or even creating a plausible "Portrait of E.T.," Wilson does indeed believe that humanity holds a special position in the known universe.

The human epoch that began in biological evolution and passed into pre-, then recorded, history is now more than ever before in our hands. Yet alarmed that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson soberly concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.

The remarkable story of how one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world was destroyed, restored, and continues to evolve—with stunning, full-color photographs by two of the world’s best wildlife photographers.

A Window on Eternity is a stunning book of splendid prose and gorgeous photography about one of the biologically richest places in Africa and perhaps in the world. Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was nearly destroyed in a brutal civil war, then was reborn and is now evolv-ing back to its original state. Edward O. Wilson’s personal, luminous description of the wonders of Gorongosa is beautifully complemented by Piotr Naskrecki’s extraordinary photographs of the park’s exquisite natural beauty. A bonus DVD of Academy Award–winning director Jessica Yu’s documentary, The Guide, is also included with the book.

Wilson takes readers to the summit of Mount Gorongosa, sacred to the local people and the park’s vital watershed. From the forests of the mountain he brings us to the deep gorges on the edge of the Rift Valley, previously unexplored by biologists, to search for new species and assess their ancient origins. He describes amazing animal encounters from huge colonies of agricultural termites to spe­cialized raider ants that feed on them to giant spi­ders, a battle between an eagle and a black mamba, “conversations” with traumatized elephants that survived the slaughter of the park’s large animals, and more. He pleads for Gorongosa—and other wild places—to be allowed to exist and evolve in its time­less way uninterrupted into the future.

As he examines the near destruction and rebirth of Gorongosa, Wilson analyzes the balance of nature, which, he observes, teeters on a razor’s edge. Loss of even a single species can have serious ramifications throughout an ecosystem, and yet we are carelessly destroying complex biodiverse ecosystems with unknown consequences. The wildlands in which these ecosystems flourish gave birth to humanity, and it is this natural world, still evolving, that may outlast us and become our leg­acy, our window on eternity.
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