Here are my picks of some of the best books dealing with The Sixth Mass Extinction and saving the planet:
The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson
If you are going to read one book about the current mass extinction, this is the book to read. Dr. Wilson not only gives a thorough overview of what man is doing to the biosphere, but his last chapter, The Solution, leaves a person with real hope for the future.
The chapters are:To the Ends of the Earth, The Bottleneck, Nature’s Last Stand, The Planetary Killer, How Much is the Biosphere Worth?, For the Love of Life, and The Solution.
The Sixth Extinction – An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
The author travels the world from Panama to Iceland, Italy to Australia, and Peru to New England to unravel how modern man is tearing apart the natural fabric of our biosphere.
This book won a Pulitzer Prize and was a New York Times Bestseller. Although it reads like an adventure story, it provides the wake up call we all need occasionally to consider and care for Mother Earth.
Extinction in Our Times – Global Amphibian Decline by James P. Collins & Martha L. Crump
Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders are in serious trouble. About 40% of all known amphibians are threatened with extinction from habitat loss, disease, invasive species, pollution, and over-harvesting. We could lose this whole class of animals in a couple of generations.
The authors travel the planet to let us know what is happening to these benign creatures and their wetland homes. Can you imagine a Spring without frogs and toads calling? That would be a silent spring we should do all we can to avoid.
On Extinction – how we became estranged from nature by Melanie Challenger
This interesting book delves into the mindset of mankind as it tends to use up Earth’s resources – including its biodiversity.
Melanie Challenger notes that we feel a sense of loss when species become extinct and that emotion may help us take action to prevent further losses.
Her coverages of the Inuit culture in Canada and the whaling industry in the Southern Ocean are particularly thought provoking.
The Next Species – The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man by Michael Tennesen
Betting the Earth – How we can still win the biggest gamble of all time by John Charles Kunich
Three great minds in history – Pascal, Gödel, and Heisenberg – have given us an array of tools to help us solve difficult problems with incomplete or questionable data. This book applies their tools to two potentially catastrophic human-caused problems – Global Climate Change and the Sixth Mass Extinction. The solutions to each of these problems involve huge expenditures and changes in human behavior.
The author makes a good argument for how we should be approaching such problems. There are no answers in the book, but it gives you the tools to come up with your own answers.
Water – A Natural History by Alice Outwater
Our Ecological Footprint – Reducing Human Impact on the Earth by Mathis Wackernagel & William Rees
This book is twenty years old, but still relevant to the conflict between human needs and the needs of the biosphere. One of the concepts introduced is that of Ecological Overshoot – the fact that civilization is using up a year’s worth of ecological services by August each year.
The authors propose that the environment can be saved if government big and small monitor and minimize their ecological footprint. In 2007 the Global Ecological Footprint was 1.6 Earths – that is, we would require 1.6 Earths to provide for current (2007) human needs. This number becomes worse as population increases and usable land area shrinks.
These concepts have been expanded recently to include a Carbon Footprint and Water Footprint.
A Sand County Almanac – and sketches here and there by Aldo Leopold
This is a classic environmental essay and must reading for anyone interested in preserving biodiversity. Leopold coined the term Land Ethic – “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”
The Aldo Leopold Foundation’s mission is to foster the land ethic through the legacy of Aldo Leopold. Our vision is to weave a land ethic into the fabric of our society; to advance the understanding, stewardship and restoration of land health; and to cultivate leadership for conservation.