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Our species has transitioned from being one among millions on Earth to the species that is single-handedly transforming the entire planet to suit its own needs. In order to meet the daunting challenges of environmental sustainability, ecologists have begun to think differently about the interdependencies between humans and the natural world. This concise and accessible book provides the best available introduction to what this new ecology is all about – and why it matters more than ever before.
Oswald Schmitz describes how the science of ecology is evolving to provide a better understanding of how human agency is shaping the natural world, often in never-before-seen ways. The new ecology emphasizes the importance of conserving species diversity, because it can offer a portfolio of options to keep our ecosystems resilient in the face of environmental change. It envisions humans taking on new roles as thoughtful stewards of the environment to ensure that ecosystems have the enduring capacity to supply the environmental services on which our economic well-being – and our very existence – depend. It offers the ecological know-how to maintain and enhance our planet's environmental performance and ecosystem production for the benefit of current and future generations.
Informative and engaging, The New Ecology shows how today's ecology can provide the insights we need to appreciate the crucial role we play in this era of unprecedented global environmental transition.
Oswald J. Schmitz is the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. His books include Resolving Ecosystem Complexity.
"Featuring novel ideas communicated clearly, this book is likely to have broad appeal [...] The book proposes that humans integrate themselves and their activity into a natural ecological niche, striving to control their impact on the natural environment by understanding and engineering their place in it [...] The New Ecology is persuasive in its argument that conscientious stewardship is more productive than an attempt to separate humans from the environment completely [...] Conversational in tone, non-ecologists will comprehend the book easily, and ecologists will be interested in the fresh concepts."
"The New Ecology underlines the essential role that humans can play in shaping what the Earth will look like in the coming century. Ecologists can no longer act alone and Schmitz acknowledges that [...] This book is an excellent introduction to the new ecology. It helps us understand that we humans – and all of nature – are intertwined and that we have to work with nature for a sustainable world. And it offers hope that change is possible."
– Lisa Kaaki, Arab News
"I recommend [The New Ecology] for high school students in an ecology or environmental science class, or for college students. It was easy to read, but, unlike a textbook, interwove examples through several chapters. I found it a great resource, especially for teachers."
– NSTA Recommends
"Schmitz uses short, fascinating case studies to explain how a science that once focused solely on nature has expanded to encompass the global socio-ecological system in which we humans and all of nature are entwined. A curative to simplistic or overly pessimistic thinking, The New Ecology explains why environmental problems are so complex – but also why that doesn't mean they are unsolvable."
– Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
"In this book, Os Schmitz has succeeded in presenting a user-friendly explanation of the science of ecology as an ally to human beings striving for a more sustainable world. The new ecology helps us fully understand that we are a part of nature, and that nature provides essential life-support services. This book inspires us to work with nature to ensure that this life support will be available to us and to future generations."
– Julia Marton-Lefèvre, former director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
"The New Ecology is an indispensable book for all those interested in the flourishing of the life systems of our planet. Os Schmitz brings together the latest ecological thinking on the interdependence of the natural and human worlds. He has illuminated these interconnections with lyrical and engaging stories. A must read!"
– Mary Evelyn Tucker, coauthor of Journey of the Universe
"At last: a wonderful introduction to the new ecology and its promise and imperative to reconcile nature and humanity to mutual benefit. The New Ecology is a remarkable distillation that should be required reading for all."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University
"The New Ecology brings together the many recent developments in ecological thought and provides substantial treatments of some of the major traditional underpinnings of ecology. To my knowledge, there is no other book that covers this material in such a cohesive and synthetic manner."
– Harold Mooney, coeditor of Ecosystems of California
"Timely, well written, and easy to read. Schmitz argues that the science of ecology has undergone a major change, one in which the idea that there are two separate worlds on Earth – the natural and the human – is being abandoned. The new ecology seeks to ensure that people can continue to benefit from nature without denying future generations the same opportunities."
– Shahid Naeem, coeditor of Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing: An Ecological and Economic Perspective