Ecological competition began as slow arms races. Predators evolved to hunt. Prey evolved to defend themselves. Each improvement was small, barely shifting the odds of survival. Nature remained in equilibrium.
Until the dawn of humanity.
When our ancestors developed the unique ability to think up new devices and behaviors, humanity became able to overcome nature’s defenses far more quickly than natural selection could respond. Humankind spread out of Africa, wiping out most of the megafauna in its path—mammoths, sabertooth cats, elephant-sized sloths, and a great many other species.
Today, this formidable, inventive genius of our species—now grown to overwhelming and all-conquering proportions—is threatening to make the earth unlivable, even for ourselves.
The only weapon available to us to counter this threat is, ironically, the same one that unleashed our destructiveness in the first place: the analytical and creative power of the human brain.
Press & Praise
Baz has produced the best treatment of human evolution and environmental impact over the last few millions of years, that I have seen. His book conveys the extinction record and its meaning in a friendly and unpretentious and at the same time authoritative way. No one, academic paleontologists included, has told this intercontinental story, so important and so long neglected, so well. Baz's writing is splendid, subtle on occasion, seemingly understated, pianissimo, then suddenly FF, and spot on.