A well-researched, thoughtful book. It was easy to follow and kept my attention throughout. I'm surprised by how optimistic it was.
There have been five mass extinctions in the history of life on Earth and it looks like we might have started the sixth. In Scatter, Adapt and Remember, Newitz anticipates how humans will survive the coming disaster. She chronicles the survivors of past mass extinctions, including the mammals who survived the end of the dinosaurs, and details the lessons we can learn from them. Finally, she describes the technologies we will use to spread throughout the solar system, including a space elevator, much in the same way homo sapiens spread out of Africa as a new species. Newitz is very hopeful for us as a species and anticipates a million more years of human evolution, including an ability to adapt to living on other planets.
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.
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!
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......
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).
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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