The Fate of the Species
Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop ItBook - 2012 | First U.S. edition.
The sixth "mass extinction event" in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions.
But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? In this provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl explores these and other looming scenarios in vivid detail-the way they might really happen-and then proffers the means to avoid them.
We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it's also the only thing that can help us survive it. Guterl's riveting book is a grand and necessary thought experiment, not merely a scary story, but a fresh perspective on the world we're remaking, and a route to safe harbor.
From the critics
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"Smallpox may be the most awe-inspiring human pathogen nature has ever invented. Smallpox is the only infectious disease that has been successfully eradicated."
"Stuxnet is a remarkable accomplishment in the history of espionage, but the implications go far beyond cyber-warfare. We are now utterly dependent on computers."
"Going from 7 billion to 2 billion is quite an adjustment. If this is the path, let us hope we move down it slowly and by choice, rather than quickly, by imposition."
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This book reads like an action thriller, and the author describes numerous worst-case scenarios which could affect the human race. "Viruses of the computer kind, as well as the biological kind, hold the key to our destruction" is a quote which exemplifies how nature and human inventions may one day overwhelm us. Climate change, biological and electronic viruses, and other factors pose dangers in the long-term though they could occur sooner than we might imagine. I recommend this book for not just High School and College students but everyone who cares about future generations and the fate of the species. Fred Guterl remains objective throughout the chapters and does not side with environmentalists who argue, for instance, that we should consume more local products and less overall and neither does he believe that future human inventions and technology are guaranteed to save us. Though it is controversial, he nails it at the end when he makes reference to the optimal population levels as developed by Gretchen Daily and Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University. "Going from 7 billion to 2 billion is quite an adjustment. If this is the path, let us hope we move down it slowly and by choice, rather than quickly, by imposition."
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