"Our relationship with nature has changed - radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable." Our finest literary interpreter of science and nature, Diane Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place (for better and worse) in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet.
Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a "frozen ark," equip orangutans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating - perhaps saving - our future. The Human Age is a beguiling, optimistic engagement with the earth-shaking changes now affecting every part of our lives and those of our fellow creatures - a wise book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.
©2014 Diane Ackerman (P)2014 Recorded Books
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The title is a bit of an excuse to blend together many essays regarding, very generally, human control over nature. The writing is a personal and introspective ramble through various subjects interesting to the author and very roughly connected to the title. I resonated quite well with the author’s ambivalent and ambiguous viewpoints. She is not very sure what her position is on many of the subjects covered, which I found intellectually honest and refreshing. The writing is more like introspective narrative fiction then straight science writing.
The basic premise of the book is, ready or not, for good or for bad, whether we like it or not, humans now have enormous power over nature on our planet. It is now incumbent upon us to accept this fact and make decisions accordingly. We no longer have the luxury of letting nature take its course; we have become too influential on that course. The book strays from this premise for most of the book, using this central idea only as a touch-point binding the diverse essays. The essays cover our power over animals, the climate, and the landscape, our use of plants, apps for apes, gene storage, interspecies and inter-kingdom internet, using 3-D printers to print products and body parts, and our use of robots and artificial intelligence.
The science presented is at a light survey level, with few details and no equations.
The narration is good, following the author’s personal and introspective intensions. I don’t think I learned much from this book, but it was a very easy listen, I enjoyed it, and it stimulated reflections on the unsettling idea that humans have now become accountable for all of nature on our planet. Definitely worth the listen.
This book begins heavy on the poetic devices, and the narrator initially has a lisp, but when the topics become somewhat heavy, the writing become straightforward and the narrator speaks clearly.
I liked it because it was an interesting concept - that of an Anthropocene Age. The book is pretty much unbiased, which is a good thing. Present and future solutions to current problems are identified and proposed, usually through more advanced technologies and advanced thinking.
Disjointed and shallow. It's as if your well-meaning grandmother developed a late-life enthusiasm for sustainability, and excitedly told you about every article she runs across. The science is superficial, and at least some of the ideas she presents have been proven impractical. Worse, Ackerman never uses one word where ten will do. Her plummy style -- every noun modified, preferably at length, often by a sometimes-beautiful, sometimes strained simile or metaphor -- became so irritating I couldn't finish the book. For beginners in the field only.
"Fascinating, compelling, thought provoking,"
If you have any interest in science, ecology, wildlife,anthropology, tjis book will not disappoint. Diane Ackerman is also an absolute wordsmith, succinct, intelligent, and well researched. I loved this audiobook!
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