This is a wide-ranging and persuasive book written by an undisputed expert. Beginning with a broad history of the Universe, Earth, Life, and Man, it considers the origins and rise of science and technology, before moving on to discuss the present state of the world and its/our possible futures. Humans on Earth then addresses the main challenges for social and economic development in the 21st century in the context of global change. It presents a detailed but non-technical analysis of questions relating to climate change, our dependence on fossil fuels, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, and air, water, soil, and ocean pollution, as well as problems related to overpopulation, poverty, social and economic inequalities, and conflict potential. The three main, but largely mutually exclusive, discourses on human development and the environment are described and discussed. The main emphasis is on the risks and uncertainties of the short-term future - the next 50 to 100 years - with regard to environmental degradation and the sustainability of our growth paradigm.
"... a sweeping, thoughtful view of the role of humans in shaping our modern world."
Paul Epstein, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School
Filipe Duarte Santos is professor of physics and environmental sciences at the University of Lisbon. He has been visiting professor or visiting researcher at the universities of Oxford, Surrey, Munich (LMU), Vrije (Amsterdam), North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Wisconsin (Madison), and Indiana, among others. He is presently review editor of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2008-2009 and elected for 2012-2013, and Director of the Ibero-American Program CYTED for Science, Technology, and Development in the field of Sustainable Development, Ecosystems, and Global Change.