Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet” as Want to Read:
Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  517 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Beginning at the moment of creation with the Big Bang, Here on Earth explores the evolution of Earth from a galactic cloud of dust and gas to a planet with a metallic core and early signs of life within a billion years of being created. In a compelling narrative, Flannery describes the formation of the Earth's crust and atmosphere, as well as the transformation of the plan ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published September 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Here on Earth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Here on Earth

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A beautiful book that has changed my life. Firmly grounded in science, this book nevertheless manages to rise above the reductionism that characterises much current discussion of evolution and ecology. Instead, Flannery's perspective embraces the shared experience of our humanity and identifies how we, as a species, can move forward with hope.
Despite the rise of climate scepticism, it’s probably fair to say that the scientific community has reached consensus about global climate change. We’re warming up and that warming is the result of greenhouse gasses, especially carbon dioxide. Whether or not it’s happening is no longer the question. The question is how we’re going to fix it and how long we have. Here on Earth isn’t really a book about climate change per se, although that comes out as the most urgent issue that the human ‘superor ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
tim flannery's reputation for lucid, potent writing has led to wide acclaim for his previous books (especially the weather makers, the future eaters, and the eternal frontier). as an eminent scientist and environmental activist, flannery's expertise is readily apparent, but it may also be the accessibility of his work that has made them so popular. here on earth is an engaging, expansive work that teeters between achingly frustrating and refreshingly hopeful.

here on earth's (american edition) su
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet is intended as a popular science book that explains how the natural history of humanity has impacted the environment. At its heart are two theories of, basically, how Earth works. One is the Medea hypothesis, in which species naturally cause their own self-destruction by exploiting resources to the point of collapse. The other is the Gaia hypothesis, where Earth regulates itself (like homeostasis). The central purpose of the book is to determine whe ...more
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academia
I have to confess to mixed feeling abut this; on the one hand I really like the Earth systems theory work Tim Flannery does; on the other, I am quite uncomfortable with the socio-biology he relies on as the principal (almost sole) source of analysis for human dynamics. I do appreciate, however, that he is more optimistic than I am about our (human) potential and the chances of survival.

The book turns around a key social and political problem – the tension (or contradiction) in human social organ
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
I gave this book 5 stars not because it is flawless (it isn't) but because of the insights it gives on such a vast topic.
'Amazing' indeed...

Flannery covers the evolution of the Earth from two perspectives: Charles Darwin, and his lesser known compatriot, Alfred Russell Wallace. Darwin is, of course, known for his painstakingly derived theory of evolution of species through natural selection, but Wallace came to the same conclusion through a more holistic approach (he could be called the originat
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecology
I came to this book with great expectations, which were a little disappointed. Flannery writes well and he has a very good grasp of the big picture as well as the detail, venturing into many different scientific fields to make his case. And his case is a good one, he melds together the perspectives of diverse thinkers such as Darwin, Wallace, Jared Diamond and James Lovelock, and shows how their research creates a powerful argument for regarding the Earth as an organism, and one we are in great ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
A book containing wide ranging topics, from evolution and the biology of super-organisms like ants, to environmental pollution, climate change, and the spread of civilization since the dawn of agriculture. Unfortunately, the attempt to derive any sort of useful insight from the synthesis of these diverse subjects was a failure, as the reader is left none the wiser at the end, with regards to the future of humanity, whether we will survive the self made calamities of this century like climate cha ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loved the first three sections on evolution and the history of humanity. just a really concise, readable synthesis of some of the amazing shit that science has discovered since darwin. so many incredible facts. wasn't as big a fan of the later sections on how we've skullfucked the environment and failed to deal with that, partly because i've read about this recently in 'World Without Us' and 'Merchants of Doubt'. but still quite an amazing book - flannery places humanity's current unsustainabili ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, 2012
read it... now.
Oliver Hodson
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really beautiful book, summarising a life's scientific influences, discoveries, and challenges. It is a great gift to have cogent summaries of evidence and an argument for hope for the future. It is a fairly contingent hope, not making it less authentic, but more so- relying on huge technological advances and a triumph of the the benevolent will, Flannery thinks it is possible to ride out the maximum population level of 9 billion for a few decades, and convert to a sustainable 'gaian' ...more
Lis Carey
Flannery gives us an overview of life on our planet and of our species, with an eye to making us see the importance of being a cooperative part of our planet's ecosystem (the Gaia hypothesis) rather than the rulers and exploiters of the ecosystem (the Medea hypothesis.) There's a useful and interesting review of the different paths and perspectives of the two creators of the theory of evolution--Charles Darwin and the less-remembered Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin held off on publishing for years ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the end of the last Tim Flannery book I read, I was pretty convinced he viewed humans as a boom-bust species, one destined to destroy itself and take a fair bit of its habitat with it, through expansion beyond what could be sustained. I suspect I wasn't the only one, because this book reads as an attempt to refute that notion, (which here Flannery dubs Medean), and to posit an alternative view of humanity, one in which our ability to cooperate and seek balance triumphs over consumerism to ext ...more
Here On Earth is an attempt to give the Gaia Hypothesis a more rational, scientific basis. From Wikipedia:

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

It's a controversial theory that critics deride as pseudoscience, and there is certainly a spiritualistic component at least to how it's pro
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Tim Flannery since reading “Throwim Way Leg” in 1998. I actually remember I was in Canberra at the time. Subsequently I have read nearly all of his books and numerous essays and articles. I was interested when He became active in the issue of climate change and some of the vitriol that was aimed at him. I believe the more vicious the vitriol the more truth there is in the individual’s arguments. I remember letter writers questioning his science credentials and this from peop ...more
Row Dela Rosa Yoon
Published in 2010, the year when the author won the distinguished Australian of the Year award, Tim Flannery’s book offers a ray of hope in salvaging the last remaining species of the planet and in regaining the lost functioning of the Earth’s life-support systems.

The battle to avert an impending apocalype is to resuscitate Gaia– derived from John Lovelock’s theory that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex sys
William Blair
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't think climate change (global warming) is mostly caused by human actions over the past decades and centuries, this book won't convince you. But if you're looking for a non-in-your-face book of facts to arm yourself with information to help convince a skeptic, this would be a good book to have under your belt. It does not set out to refute the nay-sayers, but simply presents the evidence and facts. But it's not for non-believers. The non-believers will simply respond to this book with ...more
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt so insignificant reading this knowing we are just a mere blip in time on this earth having just been the most recent ape species (Homo sapiens)to have migrated out of Africa over the last 50,000 years.

Yet in this very short period, it's a bit depressing knowing that "we've eaten our way through one resource after the other as we've spread around the the point of our own destruction". Every part of this planet we have colonized over the last 50,000 years included the disappea
Maya Panika
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A full history of Earth’s development, from first inception to the present day, this is a concise, yet detailed and inclusive investigations into the effects of human interference on our delicately-balanced planetary systems by means of a history of scientific and philosophical thought.

Tim Flannery has developed a philosophy of ecology that is clearly inspired by James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis and refreshingly unimpressed by the ideas of Richard Dawkins. Asking the fundamental question, ‘what
H Wesselius
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never been a great fan of Gaia hypothesis probably because it was presented in New Age terms that annoyed my rational mind. However, Here on Earth almost leaves me convinced due its more reasonable interpretation of the hypothesis.

If one gets through the rather boring and convoluted first few chapters, Flannery presents a wealth of fascinating information from disparate disciplines to make his case. Describing co-evolution, symbiotic relationships and even creating ant/civilization analogi
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As almost a sequel to his best selling book Weather Makers, Tim Flannery has presented what many would call a cogent argument against our borderline Medean society, in favour of a Gaian outlook.

This book has received high praise from the standard reviewers, even enjoying a listing as A Globe and Mail – Best Book of the Year. But I can’t say I agree with them. I don’t necessarily disagree with the science of Here on Earth, but I wasn’t impressed with the manner in which that science was presented
D.A. Cairns
This is the first book of Flannery's I have read. There is something very appealing about his writing. Despite being an unrealistic optimist, a classic humanist when it comes to the destiny of man, he comes across as being quite rational and reasonably passionate. I don't share his view that mankind's salvation is in mankind's hands nor do I understand fully let alone totally accept the climate change bogeyman. Overlooking his ill informed and cynical view of religion, I put forward a couple of ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elly Hale
Will the human race rise to the occasion and reverse the ills we've done to the planet? Or will we suffer the tragedy of the commons that led us to this point? Australian scientist Flannery explains the history of evolution, co-evolution, Earth's geological and climate systems, and human nature. It is a lot to take on, but I appreciated his efforts to connect all of these ideas into some kind of whole. My only criticism is that while the book was heavily documented, he sometimes presented theori ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a marketing case of bait-and-switch. It is presented as a natural history of the planet from its molten beginnings through the evolution of man. It sounded incredibly interesting, but when I got it and tore into I found that it was something completely different.

This book is a combination of what to me was light-weight philosophy accompanied by lighter-weight science or even pseudoscience in the form of a focus on Lovelock's late 1970s Gaia Hypothesis. I mean heavyweight scientists
Judy Winchester
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not finished yet, but I have peeked ahead and love it.

Tim Flannery has an optimistic vision for the future of Earth and its ecology, including humanity. This is in spite of the damage we have already inflicted on the earth, air, water and life of our planet.

However he also offers a warning.

After presenting a very readable ecological history of humanity on Earth, Tim Flannery says "If our civilization can just survive this century, I believe its future prospects will be profoundly enhanced, for
Todd Martin
Here On Earth is part history, part science lesson and part environmental treatise looking at the effect humans have had, and are having, on the environment. Each short chapter is largely a stand-alone essay and skips from topic to topic in a somewhat disjointed manner. The essays are fine and contain some interesting facts, but the book is fairly unremarkable or memorable. I would also point out that Flannery’s arguments for hope are rather lackluster as well. He appears to be holding out f ...more
Lynn Mccartney
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this thinking that it would be a good resource for my Environmental Science students but ended up learning so much myself. Tim Flannery is a wonderful writer and scientist from Australia; someone I was not familiar with before I received this book. Flannery's book traces the history of our planet and the evolution of our species with remarkable detail in a "twin biography" format. The author is guided by two strands of evolutionary theory—reductionist science as epitomized by Charles Darw ...more
Chris Demer
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Tim Flannery is a wonderful writer, able to distill complex concepts and make them very available to the average educated reader. In this book he describes some of the geological history of the planet and the impact of humans on the planet, starting with the agricultural revolution. He does not shy away from the sometimes extreme damage humans have inflicted on Earth, but is hopeful that with modern thinking and will combined with technology, Gaia can rebound and flourish. He also presents an id ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful primer on the universe and our place in it past, present and future synthesising some of the key hypotheses on evolutionary biology from the past few centuries and broadly aggregating these into Medean (selfish gene) and Gaian (holistic) themes.

As a primer it is quite sweeping but provides many intriguing vignettes along the way and plenty of endnotes for those who want to dig deeper.

It's overall well balanced but gets more personal towards the end as Flannery leaves the theories of the
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this type of book should be a mandatory read for everyone in all schools. This book really puts the world into a global perspective, meaning that it doesn't just look at it through the eyes of one country, but as a planet as a whole. I think many of our global problems stem from us being so narrow-minded and focusing on our country's / city's/ individual problems, while we are also undergoing huge global issues that need our attention in order to assure the well-being of EVERYONE on a lo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 9781554689811 doesn't exist 3 34 Mar 12, 2012 05:30PM  
  • What is America?: A Short History of the New World Order
  • Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth
  • The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment
  • Where Song Began: Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World
  • Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
  • Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song
  • Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine
  • The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island
  • Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth
  • Earth: An Intimate History
  • Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery
  • Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World
  • A Peterson Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals
  • Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth
  • Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
  • Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
  • The Unnatural History of the Sea
  • Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
Tim Flannery is one of Australia's leading thinkers and writers.

An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, he has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many books. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and in 2006 won the NSW Premiers Literary Prizes for B
More about Tim Flannery...
“While we sit in our air-conditioned homes and eat, drink and make merry like cattle in a feedlot without the slightest thought about the consequences of our consumption of water, food and energy, we only hasten the destruction -in the long term- of our kind.” 0 likes
More quotes…