A Darwinian Survival Guide: Hope For the Twenty-first Century

Daniel R Brooks and Salvatore J Agosta
MIT Press, £32.00

A Darwinian Survival Guide begins with a brief description of the evolution of biology on Earth, and what is known about the evolution of Homo sapiens. Then, the development of human society, along with many of its failings, is outlined. The ways in which species evolve and survive through environmental changes is described as a prelude to proposing ways in which Homo sapiens can also survive the coming climate extremes and their consequences.

Much is made of ‘four laws of biotics’, the first of which is named the ‘zeroth law’: humanity may not harm the biosphere or, by inaction, allow it to come to harm. There is then a discussion of how the human species should react with the biosphere, with itself and with its institutions, so that it may survive, sustainably, the coming environmental change caused by human population increase (now eight billion and soon to be 10 billion), and the substantial migration that will ensue.

Not all will agree with the views expressed, but the book does provide considerable pause for thought, including the need for preparing for change now. I did not find the illustrations particularly helpful, and all the graphs have no scale on the vertical axis, but this book should appeal to those who wish to be challenged by a range of ideas.

John C Bowman FRSB