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Distributed for University of Wales Press

Energy, the Great Driver

Seven Revolutions and the Challenges of Climate Change

Distributed for University of Wales Press

Energy, the Great Driver

Seven Revolutions and the Challenges of Climate Change

Exploring the relationships between energy, work, power, and material and social complexity over the last four billion years, this book suggests that in six revolutions this relationship has been fundamental to the trajectory of life on our planet. The stability of this growing complexity has required a parallel hierarchy of homeostatic, regulatory mechanisms, and Gareth Wyn Jones explains the profoundly disturbing implications of these twin hypotheses to the challenges of anthropogenic climate change. He asserts that a recognition of the underlying problems and trends is the beginning of wisdom and a new relationship with energy can enhance human well-being and our interaction with the rest of the natural world.

160 pages | 16 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Earth Sciences: Environment


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Reviews

"R. Gareth Wyn Jones offers a distinctive perspective on the evolution of life and civilization. He links the key transitions – from the emergence of life to our present civilization – to the enhanced availability of energy, and he argues that sustaining planet Earth as a viable home for humans and every organism with which we share it is surely the greatest project ever contemplated. One can learn a great deal from this wide-ranging book."

Lord Martin Rees, FRS, Hon. FLSW. Astronomer Royal

"Energy drives everything, says R. Gareth Wyn Jones, and in this magnificent integration of science and history he shows how all forms of life have had to adapt to the consequences of their own energy consumption. The present consequences are as alarming as at any time in our planet’s history – and anyone who wants to understand them should read this powerful book."

Ian Morris, Stanford University

"This beautifully written book is an important contribution to the analysis of the consequences of climate change by an experienced and widely traveled biologist. His treatment of the role of agriculture, and the problems faced by humans in arid lands, are outstanding. The Prologue alone is exemplary, and induced me to delve more deeply into this meticulously researched text."

Sir John Meurig Thomas, Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge

"Life depends on the transformation of energy. From this premise, R. Gareth Wyn Jones takes us on an exhilarating journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth, relating energy to major evolutionary transitions, biotic changes to the environment, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and solutions to current anthropogenic environmental changes."

John Raven, FRS, FRSE, University of Dundee

"Seven encyclopedic, linked, interdisciplinary chronicles tell the billion-year energy story in Wyn Jones’s essay. Energy propels economic expansion and political power; ’tis known. What to do when our use of energy brings us to imminent threat? Can we possibly find clues to a forward path in the discipline which limits the energy-seeking behavior of cells? Read on …"

Margaret Catley-Carlson, World Economic Forum Water Agenda Council

"A fresh and elegant scientific synthesis, confirming the exceptional challenge to human inventiveness and adaptability presented by climate change. A fine work, lucid and accessible."

Robin Grove-White, Lancaster University

"R. Gareth Wyn Jones takes us on a voyage of discovery that starts before the origins of life and moves through six major energy steps. Along this journey, his beautifully researched and fascinating text knits together a vast array of topics ranging from cell biology to human psychology. Following the unifying themes of energy and homeostasis, his journey leads us headlong to the very brink of the current climate crisis. Let us hope that this long-and-unifying view might help us all understand both the naturalness and the utter urgency of our current moment."

James Intriligator, Tufts University

"A fascinating tour through the history of energy use on our planet – and a sobering reminder that we have very little time to make very big changes in how we think about and interact with our planet."

Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements List of Illustrations Prologue Chapter I: Introduction Chapter II: The Mysterious Origins of Life Chapter III: Harvesting the Sun Chapter IV: A Structural Revolution: Complex Cells Chapter V: The Hominid Factor Chapter VI: ‘Food Gloriou

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