Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and the PEN New England Henry David Thoreau Prize.
A dazzling, inspiring tour through the ways that humans are working with nature to try to save the planet.
With her celebrated blend of scientific insight, clarity, and curiosity, Diane Ackerman explores our human capacity both for destruction and for invention as we shape the future of the planet Earth. Ackerman takes us to the mind-expanding frontiers of science, exploring the fact that the "natural" and the "human" now inescapably depend on one another, drawing from "fields as diverse as evolutionary robotics…nanotechnology, 3-D printing and biomimicry" (New York Times Book Review), with probing intelligence, a clear eye, and an ever-hopeful heart.
Ackerman (One Hundred Names for Love) addresses a currently vogue topic, the Anthropocene the geologic age humans have shaped by altering the world's ecosystems and in doing so raises the bar for her peers. "We've subdued 75 percent of the land surface," Ackerman points out, "preserving some pockets as wilderness,' denaturing vast tracts for our businesses and homes, and homogenizing a third of the world's ice-free land through farming." Yet in the face of massive changes that have "created some planetary chaos that threatens our well-being," she finds hope. Ackerman views the efforts of the tiny, deluge-prone Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives to be carbon neutral by 2020 as "a model for changes radical enough to help fix the climate." Her critical eye focuses on changes at the human as well as the global level: "Anthropocene engineering has penetrated the world of medicine and biology, revolutionizing how we view the body." The greatest strength of her work, though, is the beauty of her language, the power of her metaphors, and the utterly compelling nature of her examples. Whether Ackerman is writing about an iPad-using orangutan or Polynesian snails whose "interiors belong in a church designed by Gaud ," her penetrating insight is a joy to behold.
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The Human Age
I loved this book! Diane Ackermans writing is thought provoking, informative, stimulating and enjoyable. It's a keeper.