Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction
It is accepted wisdom today that human beings have irrevocably damaged the natural world. We have altered our climate, acidified our oceans, and we are in the process of causing the sixth mass extinction. Yet what if this gloomy narrative obscures a more hopeful truth? In Inheritors of the Earth, renowned ecologist and environmentalist Chris D. Thomas overturns this loss-only view of the world's biodiversity, revealing how many animals and plants have benefited from the human-altered planet. Our actions have even raised the rate at which new species are formed to possibly the highest level in our planet's history. From Costa Rican tropical forests to Pacific archipelagos to the thoroughly transformed British landscape, nature is coping surprisingly well in the human era. In Inheritors of the Earth, Thomas takes us on a round-the-world journey to meet the enterprising animals and plants that are thriving in the Anthropocene, from York's ochrecoloured comma butterfly to hybrid American bison and the scarlet-beaked New Zealand pukeko. In so doing, he questions why we resist the success of so-called 'invasive species', and why we see human activities as fundamentally unnatural. Combining a naturalist's eye for wildlife with an ecologist's wide lens, Chris Thomas forces us to re-examine humanity's relationship with nature, and reminds us that the story of life is the story of change.
An immensely significant book. It is fluently written, carefully thought through, ruthlessly argued, neatly illustrated with case studies - and shockingly contrarian -- Matt Ridley * The Times (Book of the Week) * His flowing narrative is rich in stories of his fieldwork round the world ... Thomas's vision ... aspires to something nobler, more optimistic -- Fred Pearce * New Scientist * Fascinating ... Chris Thomas examines our human relationships with nature, bad and good, and sets out a more hopeful truth to current narratives and alarms ... This is a rich and timely tale, fearless too, with examples and cases drawn from ecosystems across the world -- Prof Jules Pretty * Times Higher Education * [A] thrilling and uplifting counter to the pessimism of the Anthropocene -- Stuart Blackman * BBC Wildlife Magazine * A decent and humane tale about the threat and promise of biodiversity change -- James Lovelock, author of 'The Revenge of Gaia' and 'A Rough Guide to the Future' The most interesting / challenging / surprising thing I've read about the natural world for years -- James Rebanks, author of 'The Shepherd's Life' A provocative book that challenges us to look positively at our human changes to the natural world and reimagine conservation in the Anthropocene -- Gaia Vince, author of 'Adventures in the Anthropocene' Chris Thomas takes the million-year view of today's human-dominated world. The result is a thoughtful, provocative, and improbably hopeful book -- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of 'The Sixth Extinction' and 'Field Notes from a Catastrophe' With a perspective that stretches many epochs into the past and forward to the year One Million A.D., Thomas reframes Earth's current ecological upheaval as a time of great creation as well as great loss. Without minimizing or excusing the damage humans have done to the planet, Inheritors of the Earth opens our eyes to the splendid and fascinating ways nature is adapting and evolving to the world we have made. He urges us to take our cue from the majestic dynamism of nature and work with other species as they change and move, rather than fighting an impossible battle to freeze the planet in time. All change is not bad. I thought I was an optimist. Thomas is the real ecological optimist. -- Emma Marris, author of 'Rambunctious Garden' With Inheritors of the Earth, Chris D. Thomas issues a challenge to the conventional view of nature in decline. He urges us to embrace the environmental changes we've set in motion, daring to suggest that human activities will ultimately increase the diversity of life on Earth. A timely and provocative read -- Thor Hanson, author of 'The Triumph of Seeds' An immensely significant book. It is fluently written, carefully thought through, ruthlessly argued, neatly illustrated with case studies - and shockingly contrarian -- Matt Ridley * The Times (Book of the Week) *
Chris D. Thomas is an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of York and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has received the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the President's Medal of the British Ecological Society, the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology, and the Marsh Award for Climate Change Research. This is his first book. ______________________________________________________________________