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A wake-up call that argues that although it may be too late to save biodiversity, we can take steps to save our ecosystems.
With the extinction rate at 3000 species a year and accelerating, we can now predict that as many as half of the Earth's species will disappear within the next 100 years. The species that survive will be the ones that are most compatible with us: the weedy species – from mosquitoes to coyotes – that thrive in continually disturbed human-dominated environments. The End of the Wild is a wake-up call. Marshaling evidence from the last ten years of research on the environment, Stephen Meyer argues that nothing – not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, or "wildlands" – will change the course that has been set. Like it or not, we can no longer talk about conserving nature, only managing what is left. The race to save biodiversity is over.
But that doesn't mean our work is over. The End of the Wild is also a call to action. Without intervention, the surviving ecosystems we depend on for a range of services – including water purification and flood and storm damage contro – could fail and the global spread of invasive species (pests, parasites, and disease-causing weedy species) could explode. If humanity is to survive, Meyer argues, we have no choice but to try to manage the fine details. We must move away from the current haphazard strategy of protecting species in isolation and create trans-regional "meta-reserves", designed to protect ecosystem functions rather than species-specific habitats.
Stephen M. Meyer is Professor of Political Science at MIT. In 2005 he was awarded the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
"Meyer blends factual evidence with expressive prowess in such a way that his ideas cannot fail to make an impression. He offers enlightening illustrations and presents his argument with extraordinary clarity."
– Rebecca S. Bundhun, New Statesman
"This book is an exemplar of clear, structured polemical writing, a 10,000-word essay in which each word serves a purpose. In just 97 quarto-sized pages, Meyer offers a more powerful and convincing dissection of the human predicament in relations to biodiversity than most full-length academic books."
– Mike Hulme, Times Higher Education Supplement
"Stephen Meyer's The End of the Wild places the wilderness, and its destruction, at the heart of the human enterprise. Industrial society has defined human progress on the basis of how much nature we can colonize, how many resources we can waste, how much wilderness we can erase or tame. We need to change our ideas of human progress and measure our humanity in terms of how many species flourish with us. We are just one member of the Earth Family, and Meyer's important book is a stark reminder of how badly we have behaved towards our kin and how urgent it is that we change."
– Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi