Coral (Steve Jones) pdf, epub, doc

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Steve Jones is a big fan of Charles Darwin. In an earlier book, Almost Like A Whale, he took on the extraordinary task of updating The Origin of Species, which he described as the “most original book of the millennium”. His latest book, Coral, follows once more in the footsteps of Darwin, who also wrote a detailed study of coral reefs.

For a book with such a humble title, Coral covers a lot of ground, including Captain Cook’s bones; French nuclear tests; in-vitro fertilization; the De Beers’ diamond cartel; color blindness; chaos; immortality; and, of course, Charles Darwin himself. In the hands of a lesser author, such a seemingly disparate range of topics would result in a disjointed and rambling mess. But Jones weaves them around his theme to create a coherent and well-formed whole.

Jones explores what coral can teach us about life on Earth, from the survival and decline of species to the role of cooperation in inter-species relationships. Drawing not only on biology, but also on history, politics, literature, economics and mythology, he leads the reader on a wide-ranging and always interesting exploration.

He adds that if you have never visited a coral reef, now might be a good time. The book is subtitled A Pessimist in Paradise, and Jones foresees a grim future for the world’s reefs. Today, less than one fifth are protected. He argues that “greenhouse gases have proved impossible to control and marine pollution has been almost as intractable”. The decline of the world’s reefs has already begun and within about fifty years, Jones believes that many more will be gone.

Jones is one of the best popularizers of science writing today and this book matches the high standards set by his earlier work. Despite the deeply pessimistic message, at times he still manages to elicit an almost Carl Sagan-esque sense of awe about the natural world.

The threat to coral reefs from global warming and damage caused by agricultural runoff have become common topics of media reports. Yet, no matter how much you think you know about coral and coral reefs, you will learn plenty more from this book. (COSMOS Magazine)

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