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To explain the idea of "green equilibrium," Wills draws on a fascinating range of examples, including coral reefs off the densely populated Philippines, the isolated and thickly forested valleys of Papua New ...
To explain the idea of "green equilibrium," Wills draws on a fascinating range of examples, including coral reefs off the densely populated Philippines, the isolated and thickly forested valleys of Papua New Guinea, the changing Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and a Californian ranch being allowed to return to a wild state. Wills travels to Guyana's rainforests and savannahs, for instance, to provide startling vignettes of ecological processes in action. Among other topics, he highlights the astonishing snake-head mimicry that swallowtail caterpillars use to scare off predators, the symbiotic relationship between the exceedingly rare Golden Poison-Dart Frog and the tank bromeliad plant, and the invisible world of pathogens and parasites that helps to drive diversity. All these mechanisms, and many more, maintain the "green equilibria" of Guyana's rainforest ecosystems. Wills also shows how "green equilibria" have shaped the evolution and history of our own species. We now know that a kind of genetic "green equilibrium" helped populations adapt to changing environmental conditions as they spread out of Africa. Striking new evidence indicates that some modern human populations still carry genes from past hominids (such as the Neanderthals) as well as genetic adaptations to local hazards such as malaria.
Traveling to many different ecosystems, from coral reefs to the high Himalayas, and drawing on his own on-the-ground research, Wills illuminates ecological laws in action. Perhaps most important, he introduces us to people, in many countries around the world, who are now using this new knowledge to help heal the planet.
"In his latest popular science book, an encompassing work of fresh and realigning perspectives and discoveries enlivened by his wildlife photographs, Wills explores how ecosystems are shaped by evolution and how we are shaped by evolution and the ecosystems we inhabit." --Booklist
"The author argues that human beings not only shape ecosystems, but are shaped by them. Thus, he writes, while we have pushed the green equilibrium out of balance in many places, making them unsustainable and threatening our own existence, the evolution of our species has given us 'pretty good brains,' with the ability to understand the problems we have created and the power to solve them. Wills is both a skilled storyteller and a talented photographer and he provides an eye-opening account of the long history of human migrations out of Africa and into Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas."
1. How Ecosystems Work
2. Maintaining a Green Equilibrium
3. Stewardship and its Perils
4. The Challenge of Restoration Ecology
5. Catastrophes of the Past: How Three Different Ecosystems Have Responded to Existential Threats
6. A Blending of Genetic Equilibria: The Origins of Our Species
7. Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi
8. Introgression and Equilibria in Our Gene Pools
9. The Intertwined Histories of Humans and Their Ecosystems
10. Learning From Our History
11. The Origin of Our Pretty Good Brains
12. Genes, Cultures, and Green Equilibria L'Envoi Notes Bibliography