PositiveThe AtlanticMost astounding, as Dunn draws on several fascinating case studies to demonstrate, is that organisms, in evolving to leverage conditions and resources in these manufactured settings, sometimes change so much that new species emerge ... In mapping guidelines for human responsiveness to crisis, Dunn is well aware that one principle is inescapable: anthropocentrism. But like so much else, perhaps that built-in bias of ours is adaptable. Close study of how animals are living with climate change reveals that humans are at the center of more things than we realize—shaping the lives of many more species than those we love or regard as familiar. Yet the quest to understand the remarkably varied array of pressures and possibilities involved in that dynamic should help keep hubris in check. Though we are a species long wedded to assertions of control over nature, these books make glaringly clear that we are not in command of what we have set in motion. The biodiversity and versatility on display in the animal kingdom of which we are part have lots to teach us. To remain at home in the world, we too will need to change.
PositiveThe AtlanticSynthesizing a wealth of recent findings, [Hanson] opens trapdoors onto the vivid lives of other beings in hopes of giving humans a close-grained understanding of our role in habitat change and the varieties of adaptation that may be in store for our species too.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review[I]t comes as something of a revelation [...] to learn by way of Jonathan Balcombe’s latest book, Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects, that far from operating on autopilot, flies exhibit discerning social lives, idiosyncratic behavior and sensitivities to stimuli that are not dissimilar to our own ... Super Fly belongs within a subgenre of animal literature that sees frequent recourse to titles that begin: \'The Secret Life of _____\' (of bees, of cows, of wolves). But Balcombe’s book does more than unfold surprising facts about flies. The effect of being keyed into this miniature world is an uneasy feeling of double vision. Where once flies might have represented tedium or torment, Super Fly unveils an existence that is not necessarily simpler for merely being smaller.
PositiveThe AtlanticUnderland tunnels into biology, history, physics, glaciology, and eco-poetry, among other specialties, as Macfarlane visits with scientists, archaeologists, explorers, and activists at different sites across the Northern Hemisphere. Yet the organizing force in this book turns out to be not freedom but claustrophobia ... The themes of captivity and claustrophobia point the reader toward Macfarlane’s overarching subject: how to live in a world of collapsing horizons. For much of Underland, we are made aware of existing inside a capricious nature that is, now more than ever, of human making ... Encounters with these exhuming and liquidating geological forces offer an opportunity to conceive of the \'deep time\' of the book’s subtitle—those durations that extend far beyond individual lifetimes and intergenerational lineages ... Explorations in the underlands may inspire claustrophobia, and bring us into contact with the indelibility of human powers, but unexpectedly these spaces also refocus our attention on those who will inhabit the future—and how they will come to imagine us as they probe the traces we have left.