Ever since the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the '60s, we've known that human activity has had detrimental effects on the environment. Yet after four decades of growing awareness of environmental problems, we still see passionate disagreement between activists and business interests over what should be done. Much of the impasse ...
Ever since the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the '60s, we've known that human activity has had detrimental effects on the environment. Yet after four decades of growing awareness of environmental problems, we still see passionate disagreement between activists and business interests over what should be done. Much of the impasse stems from the fact that the problems are difficult to quantify. How do we assess the impact of habitat loss on species, when we haven't even counted them all, and we are just beginning to understand how they interact? How do we determine how great a population the ecosystem can bear, when we have yet to quantify the depletion of resources? How do we know if current extinction rates are excessive if we don't know what normal extinction rates are? Without scientific, numerical information we cannot make headway on these issues. Working on the front lines of conservation biology since the early '70s, Stuart Pimm is one of the pioneers whose work has put the science in environmental science. His research covers the reasons why species become exinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction, the role o
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-30 Calling himself "the investment banker of the global biological accounts," conservation biologist Pimm balances the raw numbers of what the earth produces against what humans take away annually, and, as an accountant might, quietly but insistently draws our attention to long-range projections. The numbers, he finds, do not quite add up. Pimm, who is a professor of conservation biology at Columbia University's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation and who publishes regularly in New Scientist, Nature and Science, is an advocate of conservation policy nationally and abroad, but he is not prone to moralizing. As he writes, "I will not hector you about having many children, driving a large car, eating meat," and yet he says that "the impacts I will describe already seriously degrade the lives of huge numbers of people." With clarity and humor, Pimm cites quantities, such as the one billion tons of plant growth human beings eat each year, the 35% of the oceans' continental shelf productivity they consume and the 60% of accessible freshwater runoff they utilize. Basing his argument on massive numbers like these, and on his own genial but forceful responses to them, Pimm makes a strong case for "ecology on a global scale." Readers reached by this book may just change their habits. (Aug. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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