The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change|
by Vaclav Smil (Author)
Smil, in a presentation marked by balance and clarity, synthesizes the field of
science dealing with the biosphere. It is an interdisciplinary one, combining
organic chemistry, geology, solar physics, microbiology, zoology, and more.
Whatever characteristics the biosphere displays on a global scale depend on
living matter's fundamental chemistry, so Smil diagrams the structural backbone
of cells--molecules such as cellulose or DNA. Moving next through types of
metabolism, such as the ATP cycle, Smil explains the resultant chemical products
and how they become fixed or cycled through the ground, water, or atmosphere.
Addressing concerns about human influences on the biosphere, Smil describes
them, but he is a scientist to the core (at the University of Manitoba) and is
hesitant to proclaim doom as the certain outcome. That scientific humility only
enhances Smil's work. A superior, comprehensive survey.
"A lovely book, in both content and execution."
-- Mitchell K. Hobish, Science Books & Films
"... written by an author who does not allow facts to be obscured or
overshadowed by politics."
-- The New York Review of Books
"The breadth of discussion is remarkable...The Earth's Biosphere is
-- M. Cowell, Annals of the Association of American Geographers
"A superior, comprehensive survey."
-- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"This extremely comprehensive book is more than an encyclopedia. It presents
integrative, selective, and good quality information with a point of view
informed by up-to-date sources and spanning a dazzling array of fields. I doubt
anyone other than Vaclav Smil could have produced such a work."
--Martin Hoffert, Professor of Physics, New York University
"Finally we have an accessible, highly integrated account of the environment:
wise rather than clever, responsible rather than glib, comprehensive rather than
confused, comprehensible rather than new. Smil's unique biospheric narrative,
devoid of hype and patriotism, transcends academic apartheid. This immensely
learned story of the past history and current state of the third planet is
destined to become required reading for anyone who seeks the environmental
context for human activity."
--Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Geosciences,
University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and recipient of the National Medal of Science
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press; New Ed edition (October 1, 2003)