"It's impossible to grasp the whole planet or integrate all the
descriptions of it. But because we live here, we have to try. This
is not just an artistic compulsion or an existential yearning,
still less an academic exercise. It's a survival issue. This is the
only planet we have. We're stuck here, and we don't own the
place-it would be the height of arrogance to assume that we do.
We're tenants here, not owners, but we're tenants with hope for a
long-term tenancy. We want to extend our lease just as far as we
can."-from Earth: A Tenant's Manual
In Earth: A Tenant's Manual, the distinguished
geologist Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell
University, provides a sweeping, accessible, and deeply informed
guide to the home we all share, showing us how we might best
preserve the Earth's livability for ourselves and future
Rhodes begins by setting the scene for our active planet and
explaining how its location and composition determine how the Earth
works and why it teems with life. He emphasizes the changes that
are of concern to us today, from earthquakes to climate change and
the clashes over the energy resources needed for the Earth's
exploding population. He concludes with an extended exploration of
humanity's prospects on a complex, protean, and ultimately finite
It is not a question of whether the planet is sustainable; the
challenge facing life on Earth-and the life of the Earth-is whether
an expanding and high-consumption species like ours is sustainable.
Only new resources, new priorities, new policies and, most of all,
new knowledge, can reverse the damage that humanity is doing to our
home-and ourselves. A sustainable human future, Rhodes concludes in
this eloquent, sobering, but ultimately optimistic book, will
require a sense of responsible stewardship, for we are not owners
of this planet; we are tenants.
Surveying the systems, large and small, that govern Earth's
processes and influence its changes, Rhodes addresses the negative
consequences of human activities for the health of its regulatory
systems but offers practical suggestions as to how we might effect
repairs, or at least limit further damage to our home.
Subjects: Environmental Science
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