Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Hardcover | May 8, 2008

EditorEric Chivian, Aaron Bernstein

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The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book toexamine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health. Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive--and sobering--view of how human medicines, biomedical research,the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the oceans, depend on biodiversity. The book's ten chapters cover everything from what biodiversity is and how human activity threatens it to how we as individuals can help conserve the world's richlyvaried biota. Seven groups of organisms, some of the most endangered on Earth, provide detailed case studies to illustrate the contributions they have already made to human medicine, and those they are expected to make if we do not drive them to extinction. Drawing on the latest research, butwritten in language a general reader can easily follow, Sustaining Life argues that we can no longer see ourselves as separate from the natural world, nor assume that we will not be harmed by its alteration. Our health, as the authors so vividly show, depends on the health of other species and onthe vitality of natural ecosystems. With a foreword by E.O. Wilson and a prologue by Kofi Annan, and more than 200 poignant color illustrations, Sustaining Life contributes essential perspective to the debate over how humans affect biodiversity and a compelling demonstration of the human health costs.

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The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book toexamine the full range of potential threats ...

Eric Chivian, M.D., is the Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. He shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the lead editor and author of Last Aid: The Medical Dimensions of Nuclear War and Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment. Aaron Bernstein, M.D., is a Research A...

other books by Eric Chivian

Format:HardcoverDimensions:528 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 0.98 inPublished:May 8, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195175093

ISBN - 13:9780195175097

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"An invaluable resource for policy makers and a fascinating exploration for general readers of their hyper-connected biosphere. This book represents a landmark addition to our understanding of our ecological heritage, and the importance of preserving it." -- Publishers Weekly "The book, the Silent Spring for frogs and fishes, is clear, readily understandable, and its message is compelling." -- Holcomb B. Noble, Pulitzer Prize winning science editor "It is a remarkable labor of love by its editors, Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, and manages to merge three books in one: a textbook for scholars, a plea to policy makers, and a beautiful read for nonscientists. The production values and glossy photographs are superb. Heavily subsidised, it is ridiculously cheap, and should be on every undergraduate reading list and everyone else's gift list." -- The Lancet, Vol 372 "Sustaining Life is the most complete and powerful argument I have seen for the importance of preserving biodiversity."--Al Gore, former Vice President, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate "It was an exhilarating moment when scientists broke the genome code and showed us the basic building blocks of the human being. Now scientists are showing us how biodiversity works and why it is crucial to saving our planet for our children's children and beyond. This important and compelling book is a blueprint for acting wisely and urgently."--Bill Moyers, former White House Press Secretary, Host of PBS's Bill Moyers Journal "There is probably no better way to convince anyone still uncertain about the urgent need to preserve biodiversity, which is rapidly diminishing as a result of human activities, than to documentits importance to human health and medicine. The authors have done this with great thoroughness and from every possible angle, producing a volume that pairs authority with anecdote and scholarship with passion."--Harold Varmus, President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1989 Nobel Prize Laureate, former Director of the National Institutes of Health "As a public health physician, I have been deeply involved for decades in helping political leaders, policy-makers, and the general public understand the relationship between human beings and the environment. Sustaining Life is the best and most comprehensive resource available demonstrating how human health depends on the health of the natural world."--Gro Brundtland, former Director-General of the World Health Organization, former Prime Minister of Norway "One of the main reasons the world faces a global environmental crisis is the belief that we human beings are somehow separate from the natural world in which we live, and that we can therefore alter its physical, chemical, and biological systems without these alterations having any effect on humanity. Sustaining Life challenges this widely held misconception by demonstrating definitively, with the best and most current scientific information available, that human health depends, to a larger extent than we might imagine, on the health of other species and on the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems."--Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, from the Prologue "A powerhouse of information on a topic that concerns of us all. Highly recommended."--Irwin Weintraub, Library Journal Reviews