Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#StevesLibrary: The Future of Life

Those of you that read this blog regularly will know that I have a soft spot for Edward O. Wilson, one of the grandfathers of modern ecology. I’d previously read his earlier book The Diversity of Life whilst carrying out amphibian surveys on the side of Mount Kinabalu, a review of which can be found here. Published more than a decade than his earlier book, The Future of Life it offers an insight to the future from the mind of an ecological master back in the early 2000s. A sign that the book was going to be a good read is the golden toad (Incilius periglenes) on the front colour, a species that went extinct in 1989.

In today’s world perhaps a further update is needed but as Wilson himself is nearing 90, we may never see it. The world has certainly changed since he was my age – societies around the globe are infinitely richer but in the process of development our species has wrecked havoc on the natural world. There is likely to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 and half of all species may be gone by 2100. Despite sobering facts like these, Wilson is forever a source of optimism and I hope that collectively humankind heeds the warning of scientists to correct their wrongs and help wildlife recover whilst also continuing to grow.

The elephant in the room that isn’t really discussed is the future of humankind or what will need to be done to curb our growth, as in the near future we will surely reach our carrying capacity – the Earth will no longer be able to support us and wars will erupt over natural resources such as water. Hopefully we won’t get to that stage but if dystopian/apocalyptic films have taught me anything, it’s that it’s likely to happen.

Wilson clearly treasures the natural world and understands what we may be at risk of losing forever. Some of these are animals, insects, and plants we have only just discovered, it is likely that a large number of species go extinct before they are even discovered. There is also a feeling of selfishness as some of the species that we stand to lose have the potential to provide us with food or medicines to cure diseases that are this moment in time claim lives. I’d recommend this book if you care about the planet, species conservation or you’d like a different angle at to which to help you improve awareness of your particular conservation cause.

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