Home Ecophagus by Warren M. Hern is a wide-ranging look at the major problems for the survival of not just the human species, but all other species on Earth due to human activities over the past tens of thousands years. The title of the book indicates Hern's new name for the human species: "The man who devours the ecosystem". Over the course of its evolution, Hern observes, humans have evolved cultures and adaptations that have now become malignant and that the human species, at the global level, has all the major characteristics of a malignant neoplasm – converting all plant, animal, organic, and inorganic material into human biomass or its adaptive adjuncts and support systems. Hern contends that this process is incompatible with continued survival of the human species and most other species on the planet, offering a diagnosis and prognosis of the current environmental impasse.
Part One. Overview – what’s the problem?
1. "Save that. We might need it someday"
2. Public health and politics in West Africa
3. Medical school and the Amazon: "You are very keen in your diagnosis"
4. Brazil, Chile, and abortion
5. Public health; research; and revelation
6. A new calling
7. Threat to the Holy Cross Wilderness
8. Family planning, Amazon style
9. "You may not ask that question"
10. "As you know, the human population has just doubled for the first time"
Part Two. Manifestations of malignancy
11. What the fractal is this?
12. Malignant expansion and retroactive heterotrophicity in modern urbanizations
13. Effects of malignant human activity on small, local ecosystems
14. Human contact and island ecosystems
15. Effects of human activities on regional ecosystems
16. Effects of human activity on continental ecosystems
17. The oceans
18. Toxic trash, oncometabolites, and cow farts
19. Effects of human activity on biodiversity
20. Effects of human activity on the global ecosystem
Part Three. Analysis and policy choices
21. Humans as cancer: Metaphor, model, analogy, hypothesis, or diagnosis?
22. Human activities and malignant entropy
23. Human culture and the ecophagic imperative
24. "What will be the limiting factor for the human population?"
25. "We have met the enemy, and he is us"
26. Epilogue: "Great Bringer of Death to Paradise"
Warren M. Hern, MD, is a practicing physician in Boulder, Colorado, where he is also on the anthropology faculty at the University of Colorado. He holds a Master of Public Health degree and a PhD in epidemiology. His clinical and epidemiologic research has been published widely in scientific and medical journals, including BioScience and Population Studies. His public advocacy of reproductive rights has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS' 60 Minutes, and other prominent venues. He has conducted decades of research in fertility and population trends based in the Peruvian Amazon.
"I recently read Dr. Warren Hern's fascinating new book Homo Ecophagus: A Deep Diagnosis to Save the Earth and was taken in by accolades from diverse and renowned researchers and his unique physician's view-basically doing a differential diagnosis-of what we are doing to our planet and how we can change our ways from the point of view of a practicing physician."
Marc Beckoff in Psychology Today
Ecologist Marc Beckhoff interview/review of Homo Ecophagus for Psychology Today. Full text:
"What a book! Homo Ecophagus is truly wonderful to read. It is a galvanizing chronicle, a clear-eyed look at human decisions that have altered our world, its species and ecosystems in the past, and how this knowledge is highly relevant to decisions we must now make on climate change and biodiversity. These insights are all told through Warren Hern's scientific knowledge and vivid personal experiences with these issues. Hern's book both inspires and emboldens us to make urgent decisions to conserve our biosphere that we all rely on. This book is a wonderfully insightful read for students in a wide range of college classes."
Diana H. Wall, Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, CSU University Distinguished Professor, and Professor of Biology, Colorado State University
"Warren Hern develops a deep and unsettling comparison between metastatic cancer and the expanding footprint of humanity, as we consume and degrade the environment that sustains us. His readable and accessible account weaves facts, insights, and personal history into a compelling narrative that will leave you sadder but wiser about the inescapable human predicament that lies ahead. The book is a must read for all of us who are concerned about the environment and our collective future."
John W. Terborgh, The James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science and Co-Director of the Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University
"Homo Ecophagus is a fascinating analysis by the physician scientist who pioneered the idea that humanity is performing like a metastatic skin cancer on our planet. Read it and act!"
Paul and Anne Ehrlich, authors of The Population Bomb
"Homo Ecophagus has the facts, personal experiences, and very vital messages. I hope lots of people read it and modify their behavior."
P. Dee Boersma, Director, Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science, and Co-Chair Penguin Specialist Group for IUCN, University of Washington
"Homo Ecophagus is a comprehensive and in-depth view of the global problems we face as a species. Hern, a highly respected and brave physician and humanitarian, offers an alarming diagnosis of our planet's self-inflicted pathology that we must understand and treat immediately."
Timothy E. Wirth, U.S. Senate, Colorado (Ret.), President Emeritus, The United Nations Foundation