The rapidly increasing human pressure on the biosphere is pushing biodiversity into the sixth mass extinction event in the history of life on Earth. The organisms being exterminated are integral working parts of our planet's life support system, and their loss is permanent. Like climate change, this irreversible loss has potentially devastating consequences for humanity. As we come to recognise the many ways in which we depend on nature, this can pave the way for a new ethic that acknowledges the importance of co-existence between humans and other species. Biological Extinctions features chapters contributed by leading thinkers in diverse fields of knowledge and practice, including biology, economics, geology, archaeology, demography, architecture and intermediate technology. Drawing on examples from various socio-ecological systems, Biological Extinctions offers new perspectives on the urgent issue of biological extinction, proposing novel solutions to the problems we face.
Introduction / Partha Dasgupta and Peter Raven
Prologue. Extinction: What it means to us / Martin Rees
1. Extinction in Deep Time: Lessons from the Past? / Neil Shubin
2. Biodiversity and Global Change: From Creator to Victim / Timothy Lenton
3. The State of the World's Biodiversity / Stuart Pimm and Peter Raven
4. Extinction Threats to Life in the Ocean and Opportunities for their Amelioration / Jenna Sullivan, Vanessa Constant and Jane Lubchenco
5. Out of the Soil: Soil (Dark Matter Biodiversity) and Societal 'Collapses' from Mesoamerica to the Mesopotamia and Beyond / Timothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach and Nicholas Dunning
6. The Green Revolution and Crop Biodiversity / Prabhu Pingali
7. Population: the Current State and Future Prospects / John Bongaarts
8. Game Over? Drivers of Biological Extinction in Africa / Calestous Juma
9. Why We're in the Sixth Great Extinction and What It Means to Humanity / Partha Dasgupta and Paul Ehrlich
10. The Consequences of Biodiversity Loss For Human Well-Being / Charles Perrings and Ann Kinzig
11. Terra Incognita: In Search of the Disconnect / Mathis Wackernagel
12. How do We Stem Biodiversity Loss? / Gretchen Daily and Stephen Polasky
13. Can Smart Villages Help to Stem Biodiversity Loss? / Brian Heap, John Holmes and Bernie Jones
14. The New Design Condition: Planetary Urbanism + Resource Scarcity + Climate Change / John Hoal
"Many policy makers, especially those trained in economics, can describe the management of environmental systems as if we (humans) are best suited to be in the "driver's seat", making all the decisions to assure our wellbeing is the sole consideration. They should all read the chapters in this volume! Extinction is an irreversible externality whose full impact is uncertain. By combining the insights of social and natural scientists, Dasgupta, Raven, and McIvor have assembled essays that will change this view. They are accessible, engaging, and important."
– V. Kerry Smith, Emeritus Regents Professor, Arizona State University
"Partha Dasgupta, unexcelled among economists for his contributions to ecological economics, and Peter Raven, revered for his leadership in biodiversity science, have combined to assemble a collection of papers by a virtual who's who of experts on the subject of biodiversity loss and sustainability. This volume, the product of an obviously remarkable meeting at the Vatican, will be a touchstone for all those concerned with our declining biodiversity, and the implications for the future welfare of humanity"
– Simon A. Levin, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University