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Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity    edited by Eric Chivian & Aaron Bernstein order for
Sustaining Life
by Eric Chivian
Order:  USA  Can
Oxford University, 2008 (2008)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

The terms biodiversity, ecosystems, and environment emphasize the codependent nature of human beings and animals with their surroundings. The web of life is no misnomer. Yet, industry and government leaders act as if it is, as if there were no consequences to pay. This book delves into those consequences, especially the health ramifications, and proves the necessity of maintaining links to the millions of species found on our planet.

Some biologists say we're entering the sixth great extinction event. Sustaining Life examines the role of biodiversity in biomedical research; the role nature plays in medicine, pest control, climate and agriculture; and recommends strategies for conservation, reduced consumption, and collective actions that can save our planet from what, at this point, looks to be imminent, human-caused annihilation.

The book states, 'Sustaining Life was certainly written for scientists, physicians, and public health professionals who need to understand the fundamental connections between human health and Nature ... But, it was primarily written for the general reader and for policy makers, so that they could appreciate what we are in danger of losing with a loss of biodiversity.'

Although written by physicians and scientists, the book is without jargon or esoteric terminology, and is highly accessible to the layperson. It is flush with beautiful photography, easily understood graphs, charts and illustrations, and three supplemental appendices. This exquisite text - surely destined to find its way into college curricula - is authoritative, with extensive references. It is also uplifting in that the authors appeal not only to policy makers and industry leaders, but to individuals as well, and give them useful information for practicing sustainable biodiversity within their own families and backyards.

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