160 pages, Illustrations
A fascinating popular science book that reveals how much we really know - and don't know - about the natural world. It explains why we need to be more concerned about ecosystems than individual iconic species such as the giant panda and gorilla. How much do we really know about the species that make up the natural world and how they interrelate? In this fascinating book Ken Thompson explains what we do and don't understand about biodiversity: why some places are much more diverse than others; how many species there (probably) really are; and he looks at attempts to value biodiversity in economic terms.
He argues that we need to look at ecosystems rather than biodiversity per se. Our modern landscape created by intensive farming delivers cheap food (for both animals and people) in unprecedented quantities - but unfortunately that's all it delivers. Our challenge is to devise multifunctional landscapes that deliver better water quality, less soil erosion, more carbon storage and healthier, happier livestock, that are also less dependent on cheap oil and phosphorus. If we can do that, then plants, moths, butterflies, bumblebees and birds will all gain too, but these biodiversity benefits will only be welcome side-effects of fixing the fundamental controls on ecosystem functioning.
I'm not a scientific expert [...] but I could see the well-reasoned logic of Thompson's argument. And, if all those delegates in Nagoya could read this and note that just $5 billion (US) could solve the most urgent conservation problem, they might be won over, too. Resource Magazine - November 2010 "Closing with reasons to be cheerful, it offers a fresh and fascinating look at a subject of increasing importance." Positive News - Autumn 2010 "By putting the focus only on what nature can do for us, Thompson leaves open to possibilities that ecosystems that do not deliver sufficient services might be thrown out with all the biodiversity that they contain." Nature - December 2010 "This readable book persuasively explains the calamity of the modern biodiversity crisis and presents a thoughtful analysis of how best to conserve the world's species." Plant Life - April 2011 "To those of us who do not have ready access to scientific periodicals, this short book is a revelation." Garden Talk - March 2011 "Do We Need Pandas? is an accessible and engaging read. The author's ideas are well organised, with specific examples cited to demonstrate what is being discussed." National Library of Scotland - May 2011
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