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The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  119 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In humanity’s more than 100,000 year history, we have evolved from vulnerable creatures clawing sustenance from Earth to a sophisticated global society manipulating every inch of it. In short, we have become the dominant animal. Why, then, are we creating a world that threatens our own species? What can we do to change the current trajectory toward more climate change, inc ...more
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published June 30th 2008 by Island Press
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Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Paul and Anne Ehrlich are respected thinkers in the modern environmental movement. Paul achieved infamy in 1968, following the publication of his book, The Population Bomb. It made dire predictions, warning of mass starvation in the 1970s and 1980s, and won him the intense and enduring hatred of every fiend suffering from a loony obsession with perpetual growth.

The predictions probably would have come true, but Ehrlich’s timing could not possibly have been more unlucky. He was blindsided by the
Heidi Lovett
Aug 07, 2008 marked it as to-read

What the World Is Coming To

By Michael Ruse, co-editor of the forthcoming "Evolution: The First Four Billion Years"
Thursday, August 7, 2008; C02


Human Evolution and the Environment

By Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich

Island Press/Shearwater. 428 pp. $35

Canadians joke that, given their vile winters, they are the only people in the world who welcome global warming. But some things are too serious for humor. The world is in a crisis because of rising t
Lance Grabmiller
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
An incredible, and frightening, synthesis of biology, ecology, anthropology and many other disciplines in the service of explaining the dominance of humans and the havoc this dominance has wrought.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: environment
Very broad and diverse topics covered, from the evolution of life and the human family tree, to the subsequent rapid development of society leading to the all too familiar resultant mess we made of the world especially since the 2nd half of 20th C. While useful as a basic introduction to environmental science, I am surprised it barely addressed what I believe is THE crux of all our ecological woes - namely the overarching goal and culture of growing material consumption, and how to address it.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
very informative book..the first 50 pages were random bits of information so I wasn't convinced that I wanted to continue but then it was great so I am glad I didn't stop reading. I recommended for people who don't have science backgrounds and want to learn more about evolution without reading a text book
Stephanie Fox
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent for showing the destructive capacity of humans and its consequences to the ecosystem that we all live in. It looks ahead in the short, medium, and long-term in depth, which makes it all vividly real, complete with illustrations via computer model.
Virginia Arthur
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I couldn't finish this book primarily because, much to my surprise, the authors fail to figure in animal physiology, hormones, in influencing primate/animal behavior, a sign, once again, of human arrogance, that we are somehow above our own biology. The book completely neglects any mention of physiology in favor of cultural influences and I just cannot tolerate this anymore. Humans are animals. Humans are primates. It is no accident that most terrorists are young men--physiologically developing ...more
Martin Lesser
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Im in the midst of reading the Ehrlich's book and finding it quite stimulating. It is intersting to compare with some of the books of Steven Pinker, especially the "Blank Slate". It appears that there is some disagreement on the subject of heredity. Pinker argues that much of our behavior is determined and pretty much convinced me of this in his book. On the other hand the Ehrlichs make a very interesting case for culture overcoming heredity. Their argument is based on the amount of information ...more
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People wanting an introduction to current environmental topics
I think this book would make an excellent freshman colloquium book. It didn't really go into detail about any one topic, but I think the book did a great job introducing a lot of very important concepts that sometimes get glossed over or skipped. The authors also did a good job connecting everything together. It was a book I didn't struggle to finish, and it was broken up nicely. It also references a lot of other really good books that go into much greater detail about given topics, so for peopl ...more
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
A really good summary of the overall environmental problems that are threatening the planet. Our loss of natural capital and ecosystem services are a vague idea to most, but this book puts them in perspective. By writing in mostly "plain-language" while also using the most current science, it should be accessible to most of the general public. I would recommend to anyone who wants a scientific perspective on the role a habitable Earth plays in our species future (hint: its a big one).

My only det
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: enviro
this book covers a lot of ground and is a great read for people just getting into environmental issues. there is good coverage of biological concepts that are essential for understanding our enviro dilemmas. for people who have already read a lot in this realm, this book might seem a bit repetitive. overall, though, they (the ehrlichs) make some great points and have compiled a lot of thorough research.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Very good overview of how we became the dominant animal and what changes may still be occurring. The second part was more what we have done because we are the dominant animal and how our environment has played into that.
Thank you Island press and Net Galley for the free reading copy.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
An overarching look at humans and our impact on the planet. This book covered many different subjects relating to human dominance. I wished that the authors had just picked two or three themes and explored them more in depth.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This reminded me of a Seth Godin book. It's too broad, lacks depth and you walk away wondering if you really learned anything. Some of the factoids are mildly interesting though.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Great information on how genetic and cultural evolution has gotten us to where we are and some of the consequences of where we are. However it was a little 'text bookish' for me.
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Paul Ralph Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator who is the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology. By training he is an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies), but he is better known as an ecologist and a demographer, specifically for his warnings about ...more