cover image Dominion

Dominion

Niles Eldredge / Author, Niles Eldridge / Author Henry Holt &

Some 10,000 years ago, declares Eldredge, humans invented agriculture and became the first species to live beyond the confines of a local ecosystem. Ever since, notes the author, a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, people have ignored, exploited or trashed their natural surroundings, living as though self-sufficient and detached from nature. Mass extinction of nonhuman species, loss of biodiversity, despoliation of the environment and runaway population growth are among the consequences confronting us, and solving them, Eldredge argues, will require a recognition that we are the first global species: ``The whole earth has become our local ecosystem.'' This refreshingly succinct report charts human interaction with the environment from the first toolmakers of 2.5 million years ago to the three distinct migrations of Homo species out of Africa, which, Eldredge believes, took place within the last million years. He also explains how he and Stephen Jay Gould arrived at the theory of punctuated equilibria, which holds that evolutionary change took place in relatively quick, abrupt spurts. (Oct.)