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The Future of Life | [Edward O. Wilson]

The Future of Life

Today we understand that our world is infinitely richer than was ever previously guessed. Yet it is so ravaged by human activity that half its species could be gone by the end of the century. These two contrasting truths - unexpected magnificence and underestimated peril - have become compellingly clear during the past two decades of research on biological diversity. In his dazzlingly intelligent book, Wilson describes the treasures of the natural world we are about to lose forever and how we can save them.
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Publisher's Summary

From one of the world's most influential scientists (and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author) comes his most timely and important book yet: an impassioned call for quick and decisive action to save Earth's biological heritage, and a plan to achieve that rescue.

Today we understand that our world is infinitely richer than was ever previously guessed. Yet it is so ravaged by human activity that half its species could be gone by the end of the present century. These two contrasting truths - unexpected magnificence and underestimated peril - have become compellingly clear during the past two decades of research on biological diversity.

In this dazzlingly intelligent and ultimately hopeful book, Wilson describes what treasures of the natural world we are about to lose forever - in many cases animals, insects, and plants we have only just discovered, and whose potential to nourish us, protect us, and cure our illnesses is immeasurable - and what we can do to save them. In the process, he explores the ethical and religious bases of the conservation movement and deflates the myth that environmental policy is antithetical to economic growth by illustrating how new methods of conservation can ensure long-term economic well-being.

The Future of Life is a magisterial accomplishment: both a moving description of our biosphere and a guidebook for the protection of all its species, including humankind.

©2002 E.O. Wilson; recorded by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. (P)2002 New Millennium Audio, All Rights Reserved

What the Critics Say

"This book is wonderful." (AudioFile)
"Ed Begley, Jr.reads with both skill and knowledge, delivering technical vocabulary smoothly." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (144 )
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4.2 (26 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 01-24-10
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 01-24-10 Member Since 2009
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    "A scientifically-grounded case for the environment"

    I've listened to Cousteau's "The Human, the Orchid and The Octopus" and Jane Goodall's "Reason for Hope" and just finished this one. To be brief, I think this one stands head-and-shoulders above the other two as a case for the environment and a roadmap for a sustainable way of live for humanity.

    As an environmental educator, I appreciate Wilson's fact-based approach here in regards to both the problems and the solutions; Goodall and Cousteau both argued more from an emotional perspective that, to me, seemed a couple decades old.

    I read books like this to better understand the issues we face but I personally need a healthy dose of hope and optimism to inspire me to keep up the fight. While this book goes into great detail about the problems we've created in modern, ancient and, yes, prehistoric times, it concludes with concrete examples of what's being done, and by whom, to assure the survival of present day wildlife and humans.

    Begley definitely needed a pronunciation consultant (for numerous scientific terms as well as the writer Goethe whose name he pronounced "Goath," like a high school freshman!!) but, essentially, did a good job of reading with enough inflection and emotion to keep me from drifting off.

    I found Wilson's writing to be top-notch. The opening letter to Thoreau was beautiful, in my opinion; one of the better pieces of nature writing I've read in recent years. I suppose if you're not already "green" in some measure, you might find the cases Wilson presents to be unrealistic or alarmist but, it seems to me, you probably just don't really want to hear the truth because this is based in the best facts modern biological science can present.

    Thank you, E.O. Wilson, for a lifetime of science, leadership and conservation!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Pico 12-22-06
    A. Pico 12-22-06 Member Since 2005
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    "A"

    If you live on Earth, you should probably read this. A detailed accounting of the state of the life on this planet. Wilson's broad and specialized knowledge makes this a unique piece of work that no one else could have put together. He doesn't beat you over the head with guilt, but rather tells you how it is, how it got that way and where it's headed. And, of course, "it" refers to life on this planet. So, again, if you included in that category you really should take the time to learn a bit more about your world.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian M. Fielding New York, New York 12-02-08
    Brian M. Fielding New York, New York 12-02-08 Member Since 2000

    I joined mission Audible in April 1997, contributed in some small way to its growth and maturity, and left at the end of 2012.

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    "The Future is Now"

    This is a brilliant analysis of the immediate, mid-term and long-term perils faced by all life on earth as a result of human activity. Wilson has unparalleled knowledge and experience as a natural scientist and a writing style that wholly engages the listener, building on undisputed facts toward both frightening and hopeful conclusions for the future of life on earth. He recommends active participation by all of us to first understand the gravity of the situation and then work together to coordinate ... saving the planet. Ed Begley Jr. does a terrific job.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colin Portland, OR, USA 03-03-10
    Colin Portland, OR, USA 03-03-10 Member Since 2010
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    "A powerful inventory of a sobering subject"

    Wilson has been at the forefront of ecological science for decades. This text however, speaks to anyone with an interest in the outdoors.

    Not just a stark assessment of the extinction event of geologic temporal proportion, also a road map to build on new trends that are at work already today--to pass a functional and diverse natural world on, as it has been given to us in our time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Burlington, MA, USA 06-22-05
    Eric Burlington, MA, USA 06-22-05
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    "Great text, poor reading"

    Wilson is a strong interpreter of the natural world and humanity's place in it. This book is a great introduction to the basic science and conservational imperatives of biodiversity for the layperson.

    The performance, however, was flat and full of distracting mispronunciations throughout--and not just of the scientific words. The review above extolling the performance was done by someone who didn't know the difference.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marty South Portland, Maine, United States 08-22-12
    Marty South Portland, Maine, United States 08-22-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great content, terrible narrator."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not as an audiobook... It's better to read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    EO wilson is fascinating.


    What didn’t you like about Ed Begley’s performance?

    The narrator is an actor, not a narrator. I think there is a difference.
    Some people can do both.
    It is hard to follow. His enunciation and emphasis are marbled.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil San Diego, CA, USA 07-04-06
    Neil San Diego, CA, USA 07-04-06 Member Since 2003
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    "A bit melodramatic"

    This book is not a scientific analysis of ecology, conservation biology, or of global warming. In fact, it's very much like a "position paper" for self-described "biocentrists", though this particular position paper has a reasonable amount of credible evidence to back it up. There are parts of this book that are quite melodramatic, such as the first chapter which is a "letter to Henry David Thoreau". I really could have done without that. E.O. Wilson is a good scientist, but not a very good writer---when he tries to be literary it comes off as overwrought. This is clearly an audiobook aimed at concerned laypeople who do not have much of a scientific background.

    Nonetheless, there were a number of very good passages in the book and the information content in it is high. I enjoyed the narration for the most part, but Mr. Begley really needed to speak with a biologist prior to pronouncing a number of species names (e.g., Escherichia coli came out as "uh-sher'ika colee"; even if this is somehow correct latin (which I'm sure it isn't) it flies in the face of the tens of thousands of biologists who refer to it as "ess-sha-reekia cole-eye")). It isn't a huge gaff, but it's annoying like when people pronounce nuclear as nucular. Ain't no such thing as an atomic nuculeus. This echoes the sentiments of a reviewer below.

    The editing was a bit uneven in a few spots; several takes were recorded at different levels and stitched together.

    One reviewer mentioned that the book was "a 30 year old theme: nature good, humans bad", but I think this criticism is kind of shallow. The theme is "destruction of habitat bad, natural selection good". The only real content flaw in the book is that it spent too little time explaining *why* habitat destruction is bad. Unfortunately, that's the most important message!

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Fort Worth, TX, United States 09-03-12
    Paul Fort Worth, TX, United States 09-03-12
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    "A beautifully written grim picture of the future."
    Would you listen to The Future of Life again? Why?

    Absolutely. This is an important message about the global destruction of critical systems necessary for our survival long term. So much is out of our direct control. If we as a species are not better stewards of the earth, we will be responsible for the extinction of our race and much other life on this planet.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph ALAMEDA, CA, USA 02-10-10
    Joseph ALAMEDA, CA, USA 02-10-10
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    "Good"

    A little grim on some accounts, but with a little imagination, the similarities of modern day life can be seen. For its time... maybe. Many modern movies have given better life to this idea.
    Skip this one is my advise; You already know the story anyways.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fernando East Aurora, NY, USA 07-26-05
    Fernando East Aurora, NY, USA 07-26-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "SAME"

    Nothing new. Humans are bad and everything else is good - a 30+ year old theme.

    3 of 30 people found this review helpful
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