INHERITORS OF THE EARTH: HOW NATURE IS THRIVING IN AN AGE OF EXTINCTION, by Chris D. Thomas (PublicAffairs, $28, 320 pages), reviewed by Anthony J. Sadar.
The future isn’t all bleak for the natural world. Just ask ecologist Chris D. Thomas, professor of conservation biology at the University of York, U.K. Mr. Thomas‘ new book, “Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction,” examines “the responses of species and ecosystems to human impacts over periods that range from years to millennia.” In his highly engaging book, he embarks on “a round-the-world tour of the planet’s diverse continents and far-flung islands, visiting locations where [his] research has taken [him] over the past several decades.”
“Inheritors of the Earth” is a thoroughgoing study of the vast variety of species and their evolution. The book thoughtfully challenges traditional negative views of nature and humans interaction with nature. The interaction isn’t necessarily all bad, and may likely be mostly good. The book provides ample examples of how original habitats are “not so much destroyed as replaced by a new environment that still contains quite a lot of species.”
Furthermore, “[o]nce one appreciates that there may be several different human-created habitats in any given region, containing somewhat different species (i.e., the species found in crops, pastures and urban areas are not all the same), then the total number of species found within a region may be just as high, or even higher, than it was before.” …
“Part III, Genesis Six” contests the idea that there is a new imminent human-generated sixth mass extinction (five enormous natural extinctions have been documented throughout ancient times).