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It's accepted wisdom today that human beings have irrevocably damaged the natural world. Throughout history we've introduced species and infectious diseases to foreign shores; hunted slow-moving (and slower-reproducing) mammals to extinction; and polluted previously pristine tracts of land. Now we are in the midst of the planet's sixth mass extinction event--for which we are the main culprit.

Yet as distinguished ecologist Chris D. Thomas argues, this gloomy narrative obscures a more hopeful truth. In Inheritors of the Earth, he tells the remarkable story of how nature is fighting back. He complicates the standard picture of today's ecological reality, revealing that we are actually witnessing the first stages of a new mass acceleration of ecological and evolutionary diversity. Urbanization and the mass cultivation of agriculture have created new places for enterprising animals and plants to live, and human modification of ecosystems has stimulated evolutionary change in virtually every population of every living species. Most remarkably, he shows, our actions may well have raised the rate at which new species are formed to the highest level ever in the history of our planet.

Drawing on the success stories of diverse species, from the chocolate colored comma butterfly in York to the scarlet-beaked, turkey-sized New Zealand takahe, Thomas overturns the accepted story of declining biodiversity on Earth. In so doing, he questions why we are so reluctant to embrace new forms of life, as well as why we see human activities as fundamentally unnatural. Ultimately, he suggests that if life on Earth can recover from the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, it can survive the onslaughts, however violent, of a technological age.

Combining a naturalist's eye for wildlife with an ecologist's wide lens, Inheritors of the Earth offers an authoritative account of the Anthropocene present and future, a challenge to conventional views of almost everything we do that relates to our interaction with the environment, and an illuminating reexamination of the relationship between humanity and the natural world.



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