Scientists Debate Gaia is a multidisciplinary reexamination of the Gaia hypothesis, which was introduced by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the early 1970s. The Gaia hypothesis holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are linked to form a complex, self-regulating system and that life has affected this system over time. Until a few decades ago, most of the earth sciences viewed the planet through disciplinary lenses: biology, chemistry, geology, atmospheric and ocean studies. The Gaia hypothesis, on the other hand, takes a very broad interdisciplinary approach.
Deserts represent the ultimate challenge to life on Earth. Their lack of water and extreme temperatures make survival difficult for both wildlife and people, yet deserts are rich in animal and plant life and culture. Their unique species and ancient civilizations include fragile treasures needing protection in a rapidly changing world. Deserts are among our planet's last great wilderness regions, and they continue to offer scientific puzzles and new discoveries. Deserts: The Living Drylands is a celebration of the world's least understood ecosystems.
The theory of evolution connects us to the natural world, explaining how and why we are a part of nature. The idea of progress, on the other hand, projects a destination. "If nature can supply wonderfully elegant solutions to the problem of survival by trying out test models derived solely by chance, then surely it's possible for us to find our way forward," write David Rothenberg and Wandee Pryor, setting the terms of the discussion. But is society going somewhere in particular? Is nature improving?
The often impassioned nature of environmental conflicts can be attributed to the fact that they are bound up with our sense of personal and social identity. Environmental identity—how we orient ourselves to the natural world—leads us to personalize abstract global issues and take action (or not) according to our sense of who we are. We may know about the greenhouse effect—but can we give up our SUV for a more fuel-efficient car? Understanding this psychological connection can lead to more effective pro-environmental policymaking.
Ecological restoration is the process of repairing human damage to ecosystems. It involves reintroducing missing plants and animals, rebuilding soils, eliminating hazardous substances, ripping up roads, and returning natural processes such as fire and flooding to places that thrive on their regular occurrence. Thousands of restoration projects take place in North America every year. In Nature by Design, Eric Higgs argues that profound philosophical and cultural shifts accompany these projects.
More than half of the world's living species—from the hidden forests and exotic mammals of Madagascar to the multicolored birds and butterflies of Central America—are found almost exclusively within the rainforest canopy. Illustrated with 200 spectacular color photographs, Rainforest celebrates the diversity and beauty of the life in the world's rainforests.
For much of human evolution, the natural world was one of the most important contexts of children's maturation. Indeed, the experience of nature was, and still may be, a critical component of human physical, emotional, intellectual, and even moral development. Yet scientific knowledge of the significance of nature during the different stages of childhood is sparse. This book provides scientific investigations and thought-provoking essays on children and nature.
One of the first to plunge underwater with a camera to bring the subaquatic world to the screen, maverick scientific documentary filmmaker Jean Painlevé (1902-1989) captured the throes of a male seahorse giving birth, the geometric choreography of crystal formation, and the mating habits of hermaphrodite mollusks. In a lifetime spanning nearly the history of cinema itself, Painlevé made over 200 films, including The Seahorse, Freshwater Assassins, The Vampire, and The Love Life of the Octopus.
Water links all aspects of our existence. From the politics of watersheds to the romance of turtles climbing up from the sea to the beaches, from Leonardo da Vinci to Octavio Paz, from death at a hot spring to the practicalities of liquidation, the writings in this collection reflect on many aspects of the human encounter with water.