cover image Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth

Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth

Peter Westbroek, P. Westbroek. W. W. Norton & Company, $21.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02932-1

Skipping from Florida Keys lagoons to the peat bogs of his native Netherlands, Westbroek offers a highly personal, delightfully informal introduction to the science of modern geology at the nexus of biology and environmental concern. A small but growing number of geologists now view the earth and its life-forms as a unified whole; rocks, tides, air and organisms are seen as part of an interactive global system instead of a haphazard interplay of forces. Geologist Westbroek gauges these scientists' work against James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, which regards our planet as one huge living organism. Although he finds Gaia a ``rather fuzzy'' theory, interconnectedness is the keynote of this report, encompassing volcanoes in Java, plankton blooms, shifting tectonic plates and a green Scottish valley forred aeons ago when Scotland was part of North America. Illustrations. (May)