We're not likely to survive another arms race
Dr. Emlen also considers the evolution of weapons in human animals. Noting that he's "no expert in geopolitics or national security ... since I work on beetles," (p. 215) he presents a very reasonable discussion of the arms races in which humans have and continue to engage including chemical warfare and the tactics used by terrorists. While human animals are very similar to nonhuman animals, Dr. Emlen notes, correctly, that there are significant differences. He writes, "The deadliest weapons of today have no precedent - never before has an animal wielded the capacity to destroy life on such a planetary scale, and never have there been weapons so dangerous they can never be used" (p. 220). He concludes on a somber note: "Weapons of mass destruction change the stakes, and the logic, of battle. We're not likely to survive another arms race" (p. 220).
After reading Dr. Emlen's fine book and seeing, of course, that while we have the potential to wipe ourselves off our fascinating and magnificent planet, there are also many people all over the world doing wonderful things to sustain life, and reading "Why Life Matters" was especially welcomed. The essays in this book mostly stem from interviews published in the editors' Forbes "Green Conversations" blog series with others added in from the Eco News Network. The back-and-forth conversations flow nicely and are admirably dynamic. There are fifty parts that cover, among many other topics, "Ethics, science, technology, ecological literacy, grass-roots renaissance thinkers, conservation innovation from the US to the UK; from India to Ecuador; from Bhutan to Haiti; from across Africa, the Neo-Tropics, Central Asia and Japan, to Rio, Shanghai and Manhattan." The wide-ranging table of contents, preface, and sample pages can be downloaded here. Reading through this book made me think of the magnificent pictures in world renowned photographer Thomas Mangelsen's new book called "The Last Great Wild Places."