The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People

Tim Flannery

Published by Grove Press, 2002
ISBN 10: 0802139434 / ISBN 13: 9780802139436
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Synopsis: Humans first settled the islands of Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and New Guinea some sixty millennia ago, and as they had elsewhere across the globe, immediately began altering the environment by hunting and trapping animals and gathering fruits and vegetables. In this illustrated iconoclastic ecological history, acclaimed scientist and historian Tim Flannery follows the environment of the islands through the age of dinosaurs to the age of mammals and the arrival of humanity on its shores, to the coming of European colonizers and the advent of the industrial society that would change nature's balance forever. Penetrating, gripping, and provocative, The Future Eaters is a dramatic narrative history that combines natural history, anthropology, and ecology on an epic scale. "Flannery tells his beautiful story in plain language, science-popularizing at its Antipodean best." -- Times Literary Supplement "Like the present-day incarnation of some early-nineteenth-century explorer-scholar, Tim Flannery refuses to be fenced in." -- Time

From Publishers Weekly: Who destroys or "eats" the future? Those who have not shared a past: coevolution is the key to survival of all species, maintains Flannery, a senior research scientist in mammalogy at the Australian Museum in Sydney. Just as human immunities have failed when confronted with previously isolated viruses, so entire ecosystems have crumbled with the introduction of man. Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and New Guinea make for an interesting case study: though once conjoined, they later separated, developing disparate climates and soil types. Equally important, they were colonized at different times, with man reaching Australia 45,000 to 60,000 years ago and New Caledonia just 3500 years ago. Flannery posits that these virgin islands, which were replete with unexploited resources, naive, almost ``tame,'' herbivores and no real competition from other predators, allowed man to make ``the great leap forward'' to become not just one species among many but the species. New virgin territories presented other opportunities for wealth, population growth, leisure and subsequent leaps forward. But the cost is invariably great: human populations soar, then drop as food sources become extinct or soil is exhausted and imported ideas of agriculture, husbandry and hunting slowly give way to environmental reality--reality that is particularly harsh to Australia's poor soil. With great skill and research, Flannery demonstrates the subtle interaction that makes an ecosystem work, from glaciers to fire, from dung beetles to man. In the process he makes a formidable, sometimes frightening argument for careful cooperation with--rather than domination of--the world.

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Title: The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of ...
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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