The Dominant Animal

Human Evolution and the Environment


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40 Years Later – is Paul Ehrlich’s ‘Population Bomb’ Finally Exploding?

Paul Ehrlich helped ignite the modern environmental movement with The Population Bomb in 1968. Paul and his wife Anne are back with a new book, The Dominant Animal, which takes a new look at our future on the planet as evidence mounts that the population bomb may have gone off.

Palo Alto, CA (May 2008) – Earlier this year, the World Bank issued an ominous warning – record-high food prices are pushing more than 100 million people deeper into abject poverty and malnutrition. Food riots have raged in several countries, governments have been deposed, and battles over scarce food and water are on the rise.

The year may be 2008, but this scenario sounds like it was taken straight from the pages of Paul Ehrlich’s seminal book – The Population Bomb. In short, today’s headlines sound an awful lot as though the population bomb Paul warned us of exactly 40 years ago is now exploding.

Now, four decades after he first ignited debate and action around the globe, author and scientist Paul R. Ehrlich is back with a new book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment.

In The Dominant Animal, Paul joins with his wife, Anne H. Ehrlich, a prize-winning scientist herself, to examine this growing crisis – from its roots in human evolution to the failure of modern governments to respond. It is a powerful examination of how the humans today are creating the world of humans of tomorrow—and what it will take for our civilization to survive.

The 40-year anniversary of The Population Bomb and the publication of The Dominant Animal provide a great opportunity for an in-depth look at Paul Ehrlich’s original warning to the world in 1968, his legacy, and his continuing work to understand and explain the crisis facing our civilization.

Just as in The Population Bomb, the Ehrlichs’ new book ties together the many pieces that make up the environmental, social, and humanitarian crisis we face today. The Ehrlichs bring us to the startling realization that the interrelated issues of food, energy, climate, toxic chemicals, and ecosystems are more than just a passing crisis.

In compelling fashion, they explain that our domination of Earth has prompted a period of rapid evolutionary change the scope of which the planet has not seen since an asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago.

Paul Ehrlich is one of the most accomplished – and controversial – scientists of his generation. He has counseled governments, appeared in television shows ranging from documentaries to The Tonight Show, won a MacArthur Genius Award, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Paul and his wife Anne, both of whom are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, are available for extensive interviews, profiles, or brief commentary in relation to reporting on broader stories.

Reviews of The Dominant Animal

“Buy this for your next seminar class…. or be inspired and make an undergraduate course out of it…Yes, you’ve read some of this before, but not all of it, and not told so well, or with such passion and humor.”
Trends in Ecology and Evolution

“The Ehrlichs’ main point is well taken. A change in human culture will be necessary to deal with our new situation. To many, the power of the human mind to invent a synthetic world that can literally disassemble nature seems ridiculous. Yet, as these two authors point out with a plethora of examples, we are doing just that.
Vision magazine

“In The Dominant Animal, the Ehrlichs step back and analyse the big picture, looking carefully at how humans have evolved to dominance and, in the process, are laying waste the planet. Their message is that our technological advances aren’t matched by how well we treat one another or the environment around us.”
Vancouver Sun

“Their latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment, continues to drum home the message that humans are on a collision course with ecological catastrophe. But what’s new and notable is the dual biological and cultural lens the Ehrlichs use to diagnose the underlying cause of our predicament… the book left me wanting more — hungry for revolutionary new insights whose very existence would shine the right way forward. If we’d listened to Ehrlich 40 years ago, perhaps we’d already be on that path.”
Audubon magazine

“No one has more authority to write on these matters than the husband-and-wife team of Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich. For decades now they have been documenting and warning of humans’ effects on the environment. Their new book, The Dominant Animal,” continues their chronicle of the damage we have done to our home…. This is an important book, with much information and some really stimulating ideas. We need to build on these ideas, because the world is in an environmental mess and things are not getting better.”
The Washington Post

“Alpha male and female of contemporary science … the Ehrlichs convey a message at once chilling and hopeful…. The big ideas and the tenor of The Dominant Animal are right on. The book rejects starry eyed insistence on new technology as humankind’s savior in favor of socially responsible, if admittedly difficult-to-enact, prescriptions.”
Seed magazine

“[The Ehrlichs] argue clearly and convincingly … this fascinating, inspiring book [deserves a] wide audience.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“…The Dominant Animal tells the story of how mankind came to dominate nearly every inch of the earth. [It] spans the entire history of the world, weaving both cultural and biological evolution into the ambitious narrative. At its core are timely questions we would all do well to consider: Is it in our best interest to dominate Earth? Are we creating a future we want to live in?”
Plenty magazine

“This is a grand tour of the current state of ecological science, and a tour de force of observation, insight, and suggestion.”
– Bill McKibben, author The Bill McKibben Reader

“This sparkling book is a great guide to what’s essential about humans, the world, and how they affect each other. Along the way, you’ll pick up delicious tidbits such as what Mussolini’s basic problem was, and why we are so sure that tiny sequoia seeds grow into 300-foot sequoia trees even though no one has ever seen it happen.”
— Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography at UCLA and author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel

“No other scientific couple could produce a book of this brilliance on where we came from and where we’re going. The Ehrlichs, who have been at the cutting edge of the science, have interwoven evolutionary history and our environmental dilemma into a compelling and vital story.”
– John P. Holdren, Director, The Woods Hole Research Center and Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, Harvard University

“This is a brilliant and fascinating account of how we became the planet’s ruling species and now the major force determining the future of evolution. The Ehrlichs’ broad perspective and lucid prose bring fresh understanding to what’s going on in the world today. Everyone should read this book.”
— Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden