The idea of biodiversity: philosophies of paradise
"At places distant from where you are, but also uncomfortably close," writes David Takacs, "a holocaust is under way. People are slashing, hacking, bulldozing, burning, poisoning, and otherwise destroying huge swaths of life on Earth at a furious pace." And a cadre of ecologists and conservation biologists has responded, vigorously promoting a new definition of nature: biodiversity--advocating it in Congress and on the Tonight Show; whispering it into the ears of foreign leaders; redefining the boundaries of science and politics, ethics and religion, nature and our ideas of nature. These scientists have infused the environmental movement with new focus and direction, but by engaging in such activities, they jeopardize the societal trust that allows them to be public spokespersons for nature in the first place. The Idea of Biodiversity analyzes what biodiversity represents to the biologists who operate in broader society on its behalf, drawing on in-depth interviews with the scientists most active today in the mission to preserve biodiversity, including Peter Raven, Thomas Lovejoy, Jane Lubchenco, and Paul Ehrlich. Takacs explores how and why these biologists shaped the concept of biodiversity and promoted it to society at large--examining their definitions of biodiversity; their opinions about spirituality and its role in scientific work; the notion of biodiversity as something of intrinsic value; and their views on biophilia, E. O. Wilson's idea that humans are genetically predisposed to love nature. Takacs also looks at the work of twentieth-century forerunners of today's conservation biologists--Aldo Leopold, Charles S. Elton, Rachel Carson, David Ehrenfeld--and points out their contributions to the current debates. He takes readers to Costa Rica, where a group of scientists is using biodiversity to remake nature and society. And in an extended section, he profiles the thoughts and work of E. O. Wilson. "When I'm asked, 'should we save this species orthat species, or this place or that place?' the answer is always 'Yes!' with an exclamation point. Because it's obvious. And if you ask me to justify it, then I switch into a more cognitive consciousness and can start giving you reasons, economic reasons, aesthetic reasons. They're all dualistic, in a sense. But the feeling that underlies it is that 'yes!' And that 'yes!' comes out of the affirmation of being part of it all, being part of this whole evolutionary process. And agreeing with Arne Naess that each species, each entity, should be allowed to continue its evolution and to live out its destiny... just do its thing, as we say. Why not? And the 'why not?' is there's too many people."--Michael E. Soule, from an interview in The Idea of Biodiversity "An important contribution, a first distanced examination of a critical, modern topic by a scholarly, honest broker."--E. O. Wilson, Harvard University
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This book is about the philosophy of biodiversity. I got to about page 129 and then gave up. Here's why I quit but I'm giving it a "pretty good" review anyway.The book starts with a history of how the term biodiversity got started and some conceptual difficulties with the term. There's a variety of different ideas here -- a few people see biodiversity as just species preservation, but most see it as something else as well, a diversity of habitats, a genetic diversity within a species or in related species, etc. Also news was the fact that biodiversity is an extremely recent term. It was only invented in 1986. I somehow had the idea that biodiversity had always been discussed in some form going back to Aristotle. I thought this discussion was excellent.However, after the first 1/3 of the book, he starts talking about science studies, how scientists can claim to be objective and yet be advocates of biodiversity, and so forth. I know that science can never be totally objective, I've read "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," and basically I've been there and done that. The discussion seemed fairly comprehensive on this subject, but I want to know about what is propelling the collapse of biodiversity and how this will affect human existence and the world around us.
Review: The Idea of Biodiversity: Philosophies of ParadiseUser Review - Goodreads
What is Biodiversity? This is a first attempt to write the history of how biodiversity came to be what it is today. And what it is? So far one thing is true, is the common concept that unites ...
Tensions at the Crossroads of Science Nature
The Making of Biodiversity
Why and Whence the Term Biodiversity7
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