Tyler Volk

Tyler Volk is Science Director of Environmental Studies and Professor of Biology at New York University. He is the author of Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of the Earth (MIT Press, 2003), Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind, and other books.

  • CO2 Rising

    CO2 Rising

    The World's Greatest Environmental Challenge

    Tyler Volk

    An introduction to the global carbon cycle and the human-caused disturbances to it that are at the heart of global warming and climate change.

    The most colossal environmental disturbance in human history is under way. Ever-rising levels of the potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) are altering the cycles of matter and life and interfering with the Earth's natural cooling process. Melting Arctic ice and mountain glaciers are just the first relatively mild symptoms of what will result from this disruption of the planetary energy balance. In CO2 Rising, scientist Tyler Volk explains the process at the heart of global warming and climate change: the global carbon cycle. Vividly and concisely, Volk describes what happens when CO2 is released by the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), letting loose carbon atoms once trapped deep underground into the interwoven web of air, water, and soil. To demonstrate how the carbon cycle works, Volk traces the paths that carbon atoms take during their global circuits. Showing us the carbon cycle from a carbon atom's viewpoint, he follows one carbon atom into a leaf of barley and then into an alcohol molecule in a glass of beer, through the human bloodstream, and then back into the air. He also compares the fluxes of carbon brought into the biosphere naturally against those created by the combustion of fossil fuels and explains why the latter are responsible for rising temperatures. Knowledge about the global carbon cycle and the huge disturbances that human activity produces in it will equip us to consider the hard questions that Volk raises in the second half of CO2 Rising: projections of future levels of CO2; which energy systems and processes (solar, wind, nuclear, carbon sequestration?) will power civilization in the future; the relationships among the wealth of nations, energy use, and CO2 emissions; and global equity in per capita emissions. Answering these questions will indeed be our greatest environmental challenge.

    • Hardcover $23.95
    • Paperback $19.95
  • Gaia's Body

    Gaia's Body

    Toward a Physiology of Earth

    Tyler Volk

    An engaging introduction to the emerging field known as Earth physiology, or geophysiology.

    The concept of Gaia resonates with a wide range of people—from nature lovers, theologians, and philosophers to environmental and earth systems scientists. The term, which scientist James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hyposthesis, borrowed from Greek mythology, refers to the interacting system of life, soil, atmosphere, and ocean. Like the interiors of organisms, Gaia contains complex cycles and material transformations driven by biological energy. Gaia's inclusion of life means that from some perspectives it resembles life. But Gaia also differs from organisms in significant ways. Although it has changed through time, it does not evolve in a Darwinian sense. Whereas organisms are open, flow-through systems, Gaia is relatively closed to material transfer across its borders. It exists according to its own level of operating rules, a level as complex as that of organisms and the subject of the emerging field known as Earth physiology, or geophysiology. Blending science and evocative imagery, Gaia's Body offers an engaging introduction to this new field. It explains how every important chemical in the atmosphere is regulated by living processes—why, for example, strange, spaghetti-like bacteria off the coast of Chile have an intimate connection with the plants in Long Island backyards; why "biochemical guilds" may be Earth's most important unit of life; and how scientists have detected the biosphere's "breathing." The book includes a Preface written for the paperback edition.

    • Paperback $25.00

Contributor

  • Gaia in Turmoil

    Gaia in Turmoil

    Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis

    Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker

    Essays link Gaian science to such global environmental quandaries as climate change and biodiversity destruction, providing perspectives from science, philosophy, politics, and technology.

    Gaian theory, which holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics. Gaia in Turmoil reflects this disciplinary richness and intellectual diversity, with contributions (including essays by both Lovelock and Margulis) that approach the topic from a wide variety of perspectives, discussing not only Gaian science but also global environmental problems and Gaian ethics and education.

    Contributors focus first on the science of Gaia, considering such topics as the workings of the biosphere, the planet's water supply, and evolution; then discuss Gaian perspectives on global environmental change, including biodiversity destruction and global warming; and finally explore the influence of Gaia on environmental policy, ethics, politics, technology, economics, and education. Gaia in Turmoil breaks new ground by focusing on global ecological problems from the perspectives of Gaian science and knowledge, focusing especially on the challenges of climate change and biodiversity destruction.

    Contributors David Abram, Donald Aitken, Connie Barlow, J. Baird Callicott, Bruce Clarke, Eileen Crist, Tim Foresman, Stephan Harding, Barbara Harwood, Tim Lenton, Eugene Linden, Karen Litfin, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Bill McKibben, Martin Ogle, H. Bruce Rinker, Mitchell Thomashow, Tyler Volk, Hywel Williams

    • Hardcover $54.00
    • Paperback $30.00