Our planet hasn't seen the current rate of extinction since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and global conservation efforts are failing to halt this. As a society, we face choices which will determine the fate of Earth's estimated 8.7 million species, including humans. As wildlife declines, conservation needs to make trade-offs. But what should we conserve and why?
Are we wrong to love bees and hate wasps? Are native species more valuable than newcomers (aka invasives)? Should some animals be culled to protect others, and what do we want the 'natural world' to look like? There are many surprising answers in Rebecca Nesbit's lively, stimulating book, which sows the seeds of a debate we urgently need to have.
Rebecca Nesbit is an ecologist and author, writing on science and the ethical questions it raises, in particular in relation to conservation. She is the author of Is that Fish in your Tomato?, which explored the benefits and the risks of genetically modified foods. After graduating from Durham University, she worked in scientific research, chiefly on butterfly migrations, before working on a program training honeybees to detect explosives. She has worked for the Royal Society of Biology and Nobel, and is a contributor to Scientific American, The Biologist and Popular Science.
"[...] Rebecca Nesbit must be a slightly obsessive person because there is no other way to explain the level of detail achieved in Tickets for the Ark. I say this as someone who is also obsessively consumed with conservation, and regularly thinks about many of the issues dealt with in this compact volume. Not only is the book painstakingly researched, it is broad in scope and philosophical in its treatment of a range of tricky subjects that have either courted controversy, or been ignored entirely in favour of going with the conservation status quo."
– Sarah Dalrymple, The Niche 53(3), 2022
"Thought-provoking and topical [...] an illuminating analysis of where human efforts may best be directed"
"Amazing [...] important"
"Thought-provoking [...] Nesbit challenges some widely held assumptions, many I held myself, and is skillful in doing so [...] a welcome antidote to the simplistic and divisive thinking that can sometimes taint the well-meaning world of conservation."
– Katie Burton, Geographical
"Conservation often requires tough decisions. Rebecca Nesbit takes an entertaining and unflinching look at one of the toughest decisions of all – what do we save if we can't save everything. A fascinating read for anyone interested in the future of the planet"
– Adam Hart, author and BBC science presenter