The best books on biology in the anthropocene

The Books I Picked & Why

Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction

By Chris D. Thomas

Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction

Why this book?

We are all so primed to view environmental change as disastrous and undesired. But Chris Thomas helps us to separate the ecological wheat from the chaff. Ecological change is a normal part of the history of life on earth and our presence indeed causes species and ecosystems to reinvent themselves. But in doing so, they create ecological novelties that we could embrace, rather than fight.


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The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation

By Fred Pearce

The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation

Why this book?

Fred Pearce, veteran editor of New Scientist, takes on an exploration of what invasive species really are. In doing so, he reveals that many of our engrained opinions regarding these 'exotics' is based on flawed ecology, ecological xenophobia, and ill-founded conservatism. Sure, some invasive species should be fought to save cherished native species from extinction, but Pearce shows us that this should never be the knee-jerk reaction to any immigrant species.


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Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

By Emma Marris

Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

Why this book?

This is a very important work in which the author marries philosophy and cutting-edge conservation science. Using a series of charismatic animals as her vehicles, she unravels the fuzzy thinking around the concepts of 'wild' and 'nature', leaving the reader's concepts of these, if not forever changed, then at least forever deepened.


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Strange Natures: Conservation in the Era of Synthetic Biology

By Kent H. Redford, William M. Adams

Strange Natures: Conservation in the Era of Synthetic Biology

Why this book?

When speaking of the role of technology in nature conservation, one might envisage drones to survey habitat destruction, or endangered elephants with radio collars. But technology might go much further. In this book, the authors show how genetics could help us to re-engineer species, even entire food webs to meet the environmental challenges of the future.


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Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

By Elizabeth Kolbert

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

Why this book?

In her portrayal of the vortex of technological fixes and counter-fixes that characterise modern humans' relationship with nature, Kolbert betrays a dark sense of humor. In a deadpan manner, she describes the unforeseen consequences of human ingenuity when applied to the natural world. In the end, she leaves us with no other outlook than that worse is still to come -- unless we fundamentally change our ways.


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