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Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Hardback

Edited by Eric Chivian, Edited by Aaron Bernstein

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 568 pages
  • Dimensions: 226mm x 279mm x 23mm | 2,041g
  • Publication date: 2 June 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195175093
  • ISBN 13: 9780195175097
  • Edition: Illustrated
  • Edition statement: Illustrated
  • Illustrations note: numerous colour illustrations
  • Sales rank: 198,337

Product description

The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health. Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive-and sobering-view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the oceans, depend on biodiversity. The book's ten chapters cover everything from what biodiversity is and how human activity threatens it to how we as individuals can help conserve the world's richly varied biota. Seven groups of organisms, some of the most endangered on Earth, provide detailed case studies to illustrate the contributions they have already made to human medicine, and those they are expected to make if we do not drive them to extinction. Drawing on the latest research, but written in language a general reader can easily follow, Sustaining Life argues that we can no longer see ourselves as separate from the natural world, nor assume that we will not be harmed by its alteration. Our health, as the authors so vividly show, depends on the health of other species and on the vitality of natural ecosystems. With a foreword by E.O. Wilson and a prologue by Kofi Annan, and more than 200 poignant color illustrations, Sustaining Life contributes essential perspective to the debate over how humans affect biodiversity and a compelling demonstration of the human health costs.

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Author information

Eric Chivian, M.D., is the Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. He shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the lead editor and author of Last Aid: The Medical Dimensions of Nuclear War and Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment. Aaron Bernstein, M.D., is a Research Associate at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and Resident, Boston Combined Residency in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School/Boston University School of Medicine.

Review quote

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity is a landmark book that lays out the case for the conservation of biodiversity and the multiple benefits it provides. The book is well organized, with beautiful supporting imagery. It is a much needed resource and a call to appreciate and take action to conserve our biological diversity at this critical time. Integrative and Comparative Biology ...fabulous book...lavishly illustrated...both fascinating and frightening Peter Elson Liverpool Daily Post This book...reminds us of just how much we have to lose. Geographical This book represents a landmark addition to our understanding of our ecological heritage, and the importance of preserving it. Publishers Weekly A Powerhouse of information on a topic that concerns us all. Highly recommended. Irwin weintraub, Library Journal It is a new and comprehensive review of the latest tally of planetary profit and loss... EducationGuardian.co.uk Sustaining Life is the most complete and powerful argument I have seen for the importance of preserving biodiversity. Al Gore, former Vice President, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate It was an exhilarating moment when scientists broke the genome code and showed us the basic building blocks of the human being. Now scientists are showing us how biodiversity works and why it is crucial to saving our planet for our children's children and beyond. This important and compelling book is a blueprint for acting wisely and urgently. Bill Moyers, former White House Press Secretary, "There is probably no better way to convince anyone still uncertain about the urgent need to preserve biodiversity, which is rapidly diminishing as a result of human activities, than to document its importance to human health and medicine. The authors have done this with great thoroughness and from every possible angle, producing a volume that pairs authority with anecdote and scholarship with passion."-Harold Varmus, President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1989 Nobel Prize Laureate, former Director of the National Institutes of Health "As a public health physician, I have been deeply involved for decades in helping political leaders, policy-makers, and the general public understand the relationship between human beings and the environment. Sustaining Life is the best and most comprehensive resource available demonstrating how human health depends on the health of the natural world."-Gro Brundtland, former Director-General of the World Health Organization, former Prime Minister of Norway "One of the main reasons the world faces a global environmental crisis is the belief that we human beings are somehow separate from the natural world in which we live, and that we can therefore alter its physical, chemical, and biological systems without these alterations having any effect on humanity. Sustaining Life challenges this widely held misconception by demonstrating definitively, with the best and most current scientific information available, that human health depends, to a larger extent than we might imagine, on the health of other species and on the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems."-Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, from the Prologue This most readable and beautifully illustrated book, with contributions from more than 100 leading scientists from around the world, underlines that the health implications of the loss of biodiversity are every bit as great as those caused by global warming ... The book makes compelling reading for anyone interested in the natural world. British Wildlife "A powerhouse of information on a topic that concerns of us all. Highly recommended."-Irwin Weintraub, Library Journal Reviews

Table of contents

Foreword E. O. Wilson ; Prologue Kofi Annan ; Chapter 1What is Biodiversity? By Stuart Pimm, Maria Alice dos Santos Alves, Eric Chivian, and Aaron Bernstein ; Chapter 2How is Biodiversity Threatened by Human Activity? By Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein ; Chapter 3Ecosystem Services By Jerry Melillo and Osvaldo Sala ; Chapter 4Medicines from Nature By David J. Newman, John Kilama, Aaron Bernstein, and Eric Chivian ; Chapter 5Biodiversity and Biomedical Research By Eric Chivian, Aaron Bernstein, and Joshua P. Rosenthal ; Chapter 6Threatened Groups of Organisms Valuable to Medicine By Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein ; Chapter 7Ecosystem Disturbance, Biodiversity Loss, and Human Infectious Disease By David H. Molyneux, Richard S. Ostfeld, Aaron Bernstein, and Eric Chivian ; Chapter 8Biodiversity and Food Production By Daniel Hillel and Cynthia Rosenzweig ; Chapter 9Genetically Modified Foods and Organic Farming By Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein ; Chapter 10 What Individuals Can Do to Help Conserve Biodiversity By Jeffrey A. McNeely, Eleanor Sterling, and Kalemani Jo Mulongoy ; Appendix Agencies, Organizations, Treaties, Conventions, and NGOs Working to Conserve Biodiversity ; Part A: Co-sponsors ; Part B: Treaties, Conventions, and Intergovernmental Organizations ; Part C: Non-Governmental Organizations