Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Books: Timefulness And A New History Of Life

More books arrived in my mailbox.

I have been looking for an updated sweeping history of life survey. Peter Ward and Joe Kirschvink have written just that book, covering topics from the origin of life to mammalian evolution. I'm in the middle of the section on the origin of life, along which I am re-reading the relevant section from Nick Lane's superb book The Vital Question. Flipping ahead, I can see that the authors have developed broad narratives of how ecosystems changed, framed within the themes of catastrophic events and changes in levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide (very early in the history of life).

After enjoying her first book, Reading the Rocks, I had to order Timefulness, a long essay on the need to be aware of the multiple time scales on which geologic processes operate. Marcia Bjornerud stresses that inculcating time-literacy is vital for a sensible societal response to our epoch of rapid planetary change.

I'll be sharing excerpts from time to time.

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