The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

by Diane Ackerman
The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

by Diane Ackerman


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As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, The Human Age, "our relationship with nature has changed…radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable."

Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.

Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a "frozen ark," equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures.

A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393240740
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/10/2014
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the best-selling The Zookeeper's Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. She lives in Ithaca, New York.

Table of Contents

I Welcome to the Anthropocene

Apps for Apes 3

Wild Heart, Anthropocene Mind 8

Black Marble 15

Handmade Landscapes 20

A Dialect of Stone 29

Monkeying with the Weather 36

Gaia in a Temper 44

Brainstorming from Equator to Ice 50

Blue Revolution 59

II In the House of Stone and Light

Asphalt Jungles 71

A Green Man in a Green Shade 79

House Plants? How Passé 86

Opportunity Warms 95

III Is Nature "Natural" Anymore?

Is Nature "Natural" Anymore? 111

The Slow-Motion Invaders 128

"They Had No Choice" 141

Paddling in the Gene Pool 149

For Love of a Snail 156

IV Nature, Pixilated

An (Un)Natural Future of the Senses 171

Weighing in the Nanoscale 179

Nature, Pixilated 188

The Interspecies Internet 201

Your Passion Flower Is Sexting You 205

When Robots Weep, Who Will Comfort Them? 208

Robots on a Date 226

Printing a Rocking Horse on Mars 232

V Our Bodies, Our Nature

The (3D-Printed) Ear He Lends Me 243

Cyborgs and Chimeras 253

DNA'S Secret Doormen 269

Meet My Maker, the Mad Molecule 287

Conclusion: Wild Heart, Anthropocene Mind(Revisited) 305

Acknowledgments 311

Notes 313

Further Reading 319

Index 331

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