Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

How Humans Will Survive A Mass Extinction

Book - 2013
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In its 4.5 billion-year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful megavolcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How?
As a species, "Homo sapiens" is at a crossroads. Study of our planets turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference.
Its a frightening prospect, as each of the Earths past major disasters--from meteor strikes to bombardment by cosmic radiation--resulted in a mass extinction, where more than 75 percent of the planets species died out. But in "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember," Annalee Newitz, science journalist and editor of the science Web site explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Life on Earth has come close to annihilation--humans have, more than once, narrowly avoided extinction just
during the last million years--but every single time a few creatures survived, evolving to adapt to the harshest of conditions.
This brilliantly speculative work of popular science focuses on humanitys long history of dodging the bullet, as well as on new threats that we may face in years to come. Most important, it explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow. From simulating tsunamis to studying central Turkeys ancient underground cities; from cultivating cyanobacteria for "living cities" to designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective; from using math to stop pandemics to studying the remarkable survival strategies of gray whales, scientists and researchers the world over are discovering the keys to long-term resilience and learning how humans can choose life over death.
Newitzs remarkable and fascinating journey through the science of mass extinctions is a powerful argument about human ingenuity and our ability to change. In a world populated by doomsday preppers and media commentators obsessively forecasting our demise, "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember" is a compelling voice of hope. It leads us away from apocalyptic thinking into a future where we live to build a better world--on this planet and perhaps on others. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever the future holds.
Publisher: Toronto : Viking, c2013.
ISBN: 9780385535915
Characteristics: xiv, 305 p. :,ill., maps ;,24 cm.


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bibliotechnocrat Dec 07, 2016

A surprisingly upbeat take on mass death. Newitz starts with earth's history, how bacteria poisoned the atmosphere with oxygen, and how the dinosaurs found their way into the bin of history. She moves to a more recognizable world with Neanderthals, and plagues, and cheery things like famine. All these examples feed into her thesis that somehow, life will go on - strategies for survival can be summed up as scatter, adapt, and remember. She ends with a futuristic take on the city, and the next phase of human evolution. Overall, its a fun read, despite the subject matter.

Jun 13, 2015

For some reason, I find it extremely difficult to bother to comment on the works of professional censors like Annalee Newitz or Cory Doctorow - - if they are really concerned with the truth, they would have stopped censoring all non-vanilla comments on their sites!

Jun 13, 2015

Engrossing, factfilled, yet somewhat conversational in style. I actually found it rather hope-full, at a time when i havent been feeling particular hopeful. Maybe my grandson will be able to help save Mankind after all......

Oct 03, 2013

The premise of this book is that our Earth is bound to undergo major and significant change, such as global warming, a new ice age, a meteor or asteroid strike, super volcanoes, or some other event that could cause a mass extinction (defined as wiping out 90% of all species then living). It's happened half a dozen times in the past and will happen again. The question then is, what can humans do to ensure that we are part of the 10% of species that survives? Overall, this is a very hopeful book and makes no apologies for putting humans first above all other species. It's a direct challenge to environmentalists who insist the planet would be better off without us. The fact is, we're not the first species to so change the planet that we put our own lives at risk. If we value our own survival, then we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that this Earth, which undergoes constant if slow changes on a planetary scale, is suited to us. The book is clearly written. It includes a few photos of some of the research currently underway to prepare for the next mass extinction (or the next big disaster of a continental scale).

ksoles Jul 06, 2013

Annalee Newitz's fascinating new book takes readers on a hypothetical journey into the far future of the human race, hypothetical because we must assume humans will survive long enough to have a future. Therein lies the central question of "Scatter, Adapt and Remember:" between climate change, natural disasters and hazardous meteors from space, how might we avoid the same fate as the dinosaurs?

Newitz finds the answer in her book's title. She first talks of ethnic groups, such as the Jews, who, throughout history, have scattered in order to avoid persecution. The Jewish diaspora spread its people around the globe; although many perished, others survived to pass down their genes, keeping the Jews alive as a distinct group. Thus, Newitz argues, scattering can ensure survival.

So can adaptation. Throughout history, various species have survived in changed circumstances, evolving to eventually thrive in the new conditions. Neanderthal man, for example, adapted to extreme cold during the Ice Age and managed to endure for thousands of years. Though Neanderthals eventually went extinct, some of their DNA lives on in us as does that from early hominids who learned to hunt on the newly formed savannahs of Africa.

Remembering most often takes shape in the form of story telling; many of our religious traditions and ancient legends refer back to a time when the earth looked completely different. Evidence from Earth sciences shows that our planet has undergone extraordinary changes during its long life and humans must prepare for what may come based on such evidence.

Newitz then shifts to the speculative and starts reading like a science fiction novel. She proposes a "space elevator," a ribbon of carbon tubes anchored in a platform floating atop the ocean and stretching to a "counterweight" located miles above the earth. Kept taught by the rotation of the earth, this ribbon would support a crab-like machine to carry loads of people and goods to space stations. Though at first outrageous-sounding, the idea seems more and more plausible as one keeps reading and it becomes obvious that Newitz bases her speculation on solid science.

Utterly captivating, "Scatter, Adapt and Remember" provides great entertainment for anyone who often thinks: what if?...

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