Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG

BOOK REVIEW

Cry the Beloved Planet

Roger Harris

One Planet : A Celebration of Biodiversity (Abrams, $55) is both a celebration and a lamentation. Powerfully combining words and images, Nicholas Hulot (a journalist, book author and TV producer) decries "destruction symptomatic of a shortsighted approach that favors nonsustainable use of renewable resources to meet immediate needs."

Hulot pulls no punches in his critique of the modern socioeconomic system that has accelerated species losses to historical highs. (Some scientists believe the attrition ranks as the sixth mass extinction.) Readers might think that the writing echoes the doomsayers' drumbeat, which is ever more prominent in the popular media, but there is a crisis unfolding.

From One PlanetClick to Enlarge Image

The book highlights the tragedy of biodiversity's decline. Hulot's collected images (from dozens of photographers) reinforce and amplify his words. Niles Eldredge, curator of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, writes in his introduction that the book helps the reader "emotionally reconnect with the living world." It does. For example, one image shows a bird trapped by a plastic bag in a Spanish garbage dump (right, top), evoking feelings from disgust to rage to sadness. Likewise, an aerial shot of a stand of intact forest side by side with a clear-cut area (right, bottom left) angers those who realize we have less destructive options for using natural resources.

Such pictures are all the more poignant when contrasted with our planet's diversity and beauty, which reveals unexpected treasures wherever we look. On a coral reef, a seahorse (right , bottom right) has evolved to blend in perfectly with its surroundings.

If the author's passion and self-awareness ever percolate up to the decision-makers of the world, perhaps, one day in the future, we will be celebrating.


comments powered by Disqus
 

Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed

Sigma Xi/Amazon Smile (SciNight)


Latest Multimedia

Alvin Sub

Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.

Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.

To view all multimedia content, click "Latest Multimedia"!


Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • Sigma Xi SmartBrief:

    A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, Science Observers and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.


EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Of Possible Interest

Book Review: Of a Feather

Book Review: Don't Try This at Home

Book Review: Stocking Nature’s Arsenal

Subscribe to American Scientist