The Biodiversity Crisis: Losing What Counts (American Museum of Natural History Book)

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9781565845701: The Biodiversity Crisis: Losing What Counts (American Museum of Natural History Book)
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The Biodiversity Crisis offers general audiences a clear understanding of the current threat to life on Earth posed by the fastest mass extinction in Earth’s history, which has taken place over the last five hundred years. Unlike prior extinctions, this one is clearly a direct result of human activity, not of natural phenomena. Yet the public remains unaware of the crisis in sustaining biodiversity—the variety and interdependence of all living things on Earth.

Published in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History, whose major Hall of Biodiversity opened to great acclaim, the book defines biodiversity, demonstrates its importance to life as we know it, and presents strategies and solutions, including what we can do in our own homes and communities, for stopping the escalating rate of species’ extinction. It combines essays by experts including E. O. Wilson, Niles Eldredge, and Peter Raven; profiles of naturalists such as Jane Goodall; and case studies.

Engaging and accessible, The Biodiversity Crisis presents the best scientific thinking in language and images that we can all understand, and is illustrated with photographs and drawings and supplemented with a resource section and a glossary of key terms.


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About the Author:

Dr. Michael Novacek is senior vice president and provost of science at the American Museum of Natural History. He is also the curator of the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology, and is a specialist on fossil mammals.

From Publishers Weekly:

Five times, many or most living species have gone kaput--last time around, the casualties were dinosaurs, and the culprit was (probably) a big rock from space. The "sixth major mass extinction" (in Novacek's words) is taking place right now, and the culprit is us. The casualties are big cats, rare beetles, obscure fungi, flightless waterfowl and many others--but nobody knows how many: deforestation, erosion, pollution, global warming and other hazards of modern life are wiping out species faster than we can discover them, and much faster than we can assess their possible benefits. Novacek, a fossil/mammal expert at the American Museum of Natural History, has assembled a squadron of top guns from relevant fields--among them evolutionary biology, paleontology, environmental chemistry and economics--to explain what's gone wrong in various ecosystems and how the damage might be mitigated. Twenty-three essays by 27 hands--and a brace of one- and two-page case studies and profiles of scientists and activists--set forth our current crisis in three parts: the first explains big issues (what's biodiversity? what's deforestation?); the second describes particular species' extinctions; the third shows how people (and governments) might start "Saving Biodiversity." E.O. Wilson explains what's at stake in the current wave of extinctions. The World Wildlife Fund's Theo Colborn, along with two collaborators, tracks down "hormone-disrupting chemicals" that skew reproduction in people and animals. Prashant Hedao relates how "conservation planners" make maps to decide what habitats to save. Crammed with attractive drawings, photos and large-type sidebars, Novacek's book accompanies and celebrates the Museum of Natural History's newish (1998) Hall of Biodiversity; the volume reprises the caption- and picture-heavy look and feel of the museum's 1999 volume Epidemic!: The World of Infectious Disease.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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