THE EVOLUTION EXPLOSION: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change

Stephen R. Palumbi, Author
Stephen R. Palumbi, Author . Norton $24.95 (277p) ISBN 978-0-393-02011-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-32338-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4176-9419-8
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Ever since penicillin was introduced in 1943 and declared a medical miracle, humans have haphazardly incorporated antibacterial agents in dish soaps, face washes and other cleansers, unaware that the war against bacteria was only just beginning. With this highly accessible and lively account, Palumbi, a professor of biology at Harvard, adds to the growing body of literature that aims to pique the public's awareness and understanding of antibacterial and pesticide resistance. Palumbi begins with the basics, providing an overview of the natural selection that one can observe in nature and explaining the mechanisms of evolution using a simple comparison to a car engine. Although this section may not appeal to readers who are well versed in the rudiments of science, the narrative quickly tackles the meat of the matter as it describes the progression of resistant strains of TB and the evolutionary arms race that occurs inside the body of an HIV-infected individual. In addition, Palumbi argues that the much heralded advent of genetic engineering has merely added fuel to the evolutionary engine by increasing insect resistance to crops that are engineered to emit a single pesticide. Indeed, Palumbi's suggestion to reduce resistance is to use an arsenal of pesticides rather than just one so that no insects will survive to reproduce. Although this book doesn't offer any groundbreaking insights or solutions to the resistance dilemma, it is a straightforward overview for the lay reader of the dangerous real-life significance of evolution. (May)

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