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Conserving Life on Earth

By (author) David W. Ehrenfeld
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom
Published: 15th Feb 1973
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 83007g
ISBN-10: 0195015983
ISBN-13: 9780195015980
Barcode No: 9780195015980

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Kirkus US
The ecology literature keeps rolling off the presses, but if it were ali as rich and free from redundancy as Ehrenfeld's essay - the best since Barry Commoner's The Closing Circle of a year ago - no one would complain about the surfeit. What distinguishes Conserving Life on Earth from most of the genre is its cogent stress on ecological theory: Ehrenfeld's central theme is that biological diversity among species and natural communities must be preserved on a global basis while concurrently recognizing the essential unity of the biosphere. Thus he argues strenuously against the narrow "resource" school of conservation which promotes an "extractive" or disjunctive relationship between man and his natural environment as opposed to the more encompassing "holistic" school which recognizes "an infinity of connections" and eschews the arrogance of anthropomorphism - "Who knows the world so well," asks Ehrenfeld, "that he can say that the scientific, 'objective' reasons for saving alligators are ultimately more important than the emotional, 'subjective' ones?" Now that's a lot to chew on. But he provides a great many concrete case studies which illuminate and support his position, from the California redwoods where an entire ecosystem is endangered to the depressing situation of the blue whale threatened with species extinction. Along the way Ehrenfeld deftly turns aside subtle anti-conservationist thrusts - haven't flora and fauna come and gone throughout the millenia, so what's the worry about a few relics from the Pleistocene epoch like the rhinoceros? He counters that all species "are potential Humpty Dumpties," but the current extinction rate is running "approximately a thousand times greater" than previous eras. David Ehrenfeld is out of the same ecobag as authorities like Jane Jacobs, Barry Commoner, and - perhaps stretching a point - John Muir. Yes, he's that good. (Kirkus Reviews)