The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind

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9780385424974: The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind

Richard Leakey, One Of The World's  Foremost Experts On Man's Evolutionary Past, Now Turns  His Eye To The Future And Doesn't Like What He  Sees.

To the philosophical the  earth is eternal, while the human race -- presumptive  keeper of the world's history -- is a mere speck  in the rich stream of life. It is known that  nothing upon Earth is forever; geography, climate, and  plant and animal life are all subject to radical  change. On five occasions in the past, catastrophic  natural events have caused mass extinctions on  Earth. But today humans stand alone, in dubious  distinction, among Earth's species: Homo  Sapiens possesses the ability to destroy  entire species at will, to trigger the sixth  extinction in the history of life. In The Sixth  Extinction, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin  consider how the grand sprawl of human life is  inexorably wreaking havoc around the world. The  authors of Origins and  Origins Reconsidered, unimpeachable  authorities on the human fossil record, turn their  attention to the most uncharted anthropological territory  of all: the future, and man's role in defining it.  According to Leakey and Lewin, man and his  surrounding species are end products of history and  chance. Now, however, humans have the unique  opportunity to recognize their influence on the global  ecosystem, and consciously steer the outcome in order  to avoid triggering an unimaginable upheaval.

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From Library Journal:

Paleoanthropologist Leakey and coauthor Lewin (Origins Reconsidered, LJ 9/1/92) examine biology's traditional viewpoints, which maintain a linear progression from simple to complex species development. In this scenario, survival of the fittest means success, and species extinction indicates failure. The authors also present the current trends in evolutionary science theory suggesting that the world is shaped by mass extinctions (natural catastrophes have caused five) instead of natural selection and that the shape and behavior of biological communities is driven by chaotic interaction rather than the simplistic balance-of-nature concept. Leakey and Lewin argue that Homo sapiens is the result of many chance events in evolution rather than the foreordained culmination of evolutionary excellence. Unfortunately, our self-awareness and mental capacity has given us the dubious capability of triggering a sixth extinction, destroying entire species through overhunting and habitat destruction. As the only sentient creature among animals, we have the duty to protect all of Earth's species. The authors present a powerful message based on years of observation and fieldwork. Highly recommended for all collections.?Gloria Maxwell, Kansas Cty. P.L., Kan.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Five mass extinctions, etched in the fossil record, attest to life's precarious, unpredictable course. One such catastrophe, occurring 65 million years ago, wiped out the dinosaurs and ushered in the age of mammals. In another global disaster, 225 million years ago, more than 95% of marine animal species vanished. A sixth mass extinction is inevitable, according to eminent paleoanthropologist/conservationist Leakey and ecologist/evolutionary biologist Lewin, who collaborated on Origins and Origins Reconsidered. Human beings, by destroying tropical rain forests and driving tens of thousands of species into extinction, are dangerously reducing biodiversity, damaging ecosystems and possibly precipitating the next major mass extinction, which could number Homo sapiens among its victims, the authors warn. This eloquent and important study maintains that mass extinctions were major creative factors in shaping evolution, opening ecological niches to survivors?only we may not be so lucky next time around. Illustrated.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Leakey, Richard E. & Roger Lewin
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ISBN 10: 0385424973 ISBN 13: 9780385424974
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Richard E. Leakey, Roger Lewin
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Richard E. Leakey, Roger Lewin
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Richard E. Leakey; Roger Lewin
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