Biological Extinction

Biological Extinction : New Perspectives

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The rapidly increasing human pressure on the biosphere is pushing biodiversity into the sixth mass extinction event in the history of life on Earth. The organisms being exterminated are integral working parts of our planet's life support system, and their loss is permanent. Like climate change, this irreversible loss has potentially devastating consequences for humanity. As we come to recognise the many ways in which we depend on nature, this can pave the way for a new ethic that acknowledges the importance of co-existence between humans and other species. Biological Extinction features chapters contributed by leading thinkers in diverse fields of knowledge and practice, including biology, economics, geology, archaeology, demography, architecture and intermediate technology. Drawing on examples from various socio-ecological systems, the book offers new perspectives on the urgent issue of biological extinction, proposing novel solutions to the problems that we face.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 1108711812
  • 9781108711814

Table of contents

Introduction Partha Dasgupta and Peter Raven; Prologue. Extinction: what it means to us Martin Rees; 1. Extinction in deep time: lessons from the past? Neil Shubin; 2. Biodiversity and global change: from creator to victim Timothy Lenton; 3. The state of the world's biodiversity Stuart Pimm and Peter Raven; 4. Extinction threats to life in the ocean and opportunities for their amelioration Jenna Sullivan, Vanessa Constant and Jane Lubchenco; 5. Out of the soil: soil (dark matter biodiversity) and societal 'collapses' from Mesoamerica to the Mesopotamia and beyond Timothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach and Nicholas Dunning; 6. The Green Revolution and crop biodiversity Prabhu Pingali; 7. Population: the current state and future prospects John Bongaarts; 8. Game over? Drivers of biological extinction in Africa Calestous Juma; 9. Why we're in the sixth great extinction and what it means to humanity Partha Dasgupta and Paul Ehrlich; 10. The consequences of biodiversity loss for human well-being Charles Perrings and Ann Kinzig; 11. Terra incognita: in search of the disconnect Mathis Wackernagel; 12. How do we stem biodiversity loss? Gretchen Daily and Stephen Polasky; 13. Can smart villages help to stem biodiversity loss? Brian Heap, John Holmes and Bernie Jones; 14. The new design condition: planetary urbanism + resource scarcity + climate change John Hoal.
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Review quote

'Many policy makers, especially those trained in economics, can describe the management of environmental systems as if we (humans) are best suited to be in the 'driver's seat', making all the decisions to assure our wellbeing is the sole consideration. They should all read the chapters in this volume! Extinction is an irreversible externality whose full impact is uncertain. By combining the insights of social and natural scientists, Dasgupta, Raven, and McIvor have assembled essays that will change this view. They are accessible, engaging, and important.' V. Kerry Smith, Emeritus Regents Professor, Arizona State University 'Partha Dasgupta, unexcelled among economists for his contributions to ecological economics, and Peter Raven, revered for his leadership in biodiversity science, have combined to assemble a collection of papers by a virtual who's who of experts on the subject of biodiversity loss and sustainability. This volume, the product of an obviously remarkable meeting at the Vatican, will be a touchstone for all those concerned with our declining biodiversity, and the implications for the future welfare of humanity.' Simon A. Levin, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
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About Partha Dasgupta

Partha Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge, Chair of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. He was knighted in 2002 for his services to economics, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. He won the Volvo Environment Prize in 2002, the Blue Planet Prize in 2015 and the Tyler Prize in 2016. Peter Raven is the President Emeritus of Missouri Botanical Garden and the George Engelmann Professor of Botany Emeritus at Washington University, St Louis. He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Foreign Member of the Royal Society, and Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He won the Volvo Environment Prize in 1992, the International Cosmos Prize in 2003, and the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal in 2018. Anna McIvor completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, and has since worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the Departments of Zoology and Geography at the University of Cambridge.
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