Vintage Patterns of Life

Sapiens
Yuval Noah Harari

One species among countless others has conquered planet Earth – human beings. We are the most creative and most destructive animals ever to have lived. Sapiens tells the story of how we came to create cities, kingdoms and empires, and how we came to believe in gods, nations, human rights, money, books and laws. It is stuffed with extraordinary facts and is a thrilling read that describes our journey from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age, from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. 

 

The Origin of Species
Charles Darwin

The Origin of Species has been voted the most influential academic book ever written. It is the book that formed the basis of modern biology and the concept of biodiversity. First published in 1859, and based on twenty years of research, it was an instant bestseller. The implication that human beings, like all species, are the result of a process of evolution and not divinely created was a serious challenge to the veracity of the Bible. It changed religion and society forever.  

 

Guns, Germs and Steel
Jared Diamond

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Diamond poses this question: why was it that Eurasian peoples, rather than peoples of other continents, became the ones to develop the ingredients of power (guns, germs, and steel) and to expand around the world? In fascinating detail the book elucidates his answer: that it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography. The natural landscapes of Europe and Africa account for their very different trajectories. If you’ve ever wondered about why the world is as it is, this is the book for you. 

 

Cradle to Cradle
Michael Braungart and William McDonough

The manufacturing model of modern industry is inherently wasteful and polluting – this crucial book tells us how we can be so much better. This extract puts it perfectly: ‘Consider this: all the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.’

 

Adventures in the Anthropocene
Gaia Vince

The ‘Anthropocene’ is the era in which we are living – an era defined by the changes we humans have made to the natural world. These changes have profoundly altered our world beyond anything it has experienced before in its 4.6 billion-year history. As a result, our planet is said to be crossing into the Anthropocene – the Age of Humans. Gaia Vince has gone around the world to see what’s really going on behind all the conflicting facts and stats about climate change. The ingenious solutions people have devised to reverse damage to the planet are fascinating. 

 

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