Here On Earth- A Natural History of the Planet – Book Review

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by Marnie Bruce

Tim Flannery,internationally acclaimed scientist, writer and explorer takes us on a remarkable journey through the natural history of life on planet Earth. The journey is exciting,disturbing and sometimes moving.

Flannery traces the development of evolution through Charles Darwin’s 1859  book ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION, and the work of Alfred Russel Wallace and James Lovelock which presented varying interpretations on the implications of Darwin’s writings.

Unfortunately,the misunderstanding of the concept of “survival of the fittest” gave rise to such unfounded ideas as “the misery of the poorest reflects the natural order.” Social Darwinism was used to promote the twentieth century belief in Eugenics and bring about the exterminations and horrors of the Nazi era.

Flannery clearly substantiates the ongoing attacks against the air we breathe and the soils and water all must have to survive.

Despite the present declining status of life on earth, he remains optimistic about our ability to gradually restore the balance and sustainablity. He stresses the importance of international co-operation through treaties that can be monitored by governments and international agencies. Together with corporations  and urged on by non-governmental agencies and citizens who understand and support the necessary actions positive results can be achieved.

Many projects and proposals are now underway around the world. Harvard University, one of the largest owners of public companies has been challenged by an investor activist to take responsibility for some of the harsh ecological results of the companies in which it invests.

In speaking to managers of pension funds about the risks involved in the future from climate change, for example, Flannery points out that the continuing burning of coal will lead to ever increasing greenhouse gas pollution which will begin to affect the health, longevity and the economy at a time when many of their pensioners will be counting on the money they have invested through the funds they manage.

This is an amazing book–well written, well-researched by a brilliant scientist who now is helping to develop projects around the world.

Those who care about life on this planet may well be encouraged to urge greater co-operation and action towards a healthier and sustainable world.

Here On Earth is available at Mill Street Books in Almonte.