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While writing Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise, Steve Jones had beside him the coral brooch that his sea captain grandfather brought back across the Indian Ocean as a gift for his wife. This simple object is a starting point for a dazzling narrative that touches on a number of the most important issues facing us today.
Following in the footsteps of Darwin and Captain Cook, Jones reveals what coral has to tell us about the human genome project, cloning, and the possibility of a cure for cancer and genetic diseases; what insights it can offer us into the future of trade in oil and other forms of carbon; how it is linked to the fluctuations in weather patterns that have lead to destruction along the coasts of the Americas and the Far East. Finally, Jones considers what coral – exploited and destroyed in many ways and under siege from climate change – tells us about the likely future of the planet and humankind: it is a warning that both may be close to the point of no return.
Steve Jones is Professor of Genetics at University College London and the president of the Galton Institute. He delivered the BBC Reith Lectures in 1991, appears frequently on radio and television and is a regular columnist for the Daily Telegraph.
'One of science's best writers' GUARDIAN 'He has an ability verging on the magical to compress into a scentence a discovery that took twenty scientists twenty years to make. ... I urge you to read this book' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Jones rallies literature, politics, myth and commitment to the cause of preserving coral reefs ... Wittily, pithily and passionately put' THE TIMES 'This is a startling, energetic and provocative read. It's also surprisingly funny' DAILY MAIL