U.S. Department of the Interior


Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 32(1): March 2000. Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Found online at http://www.fhsu.edu/biology/pn/prairienat.htm


This slender, well-written volume is a compendium of terms, 60 altogether, purportedly intended to introduce the layperson to the discipline of ecology. With encyclopedic listings from "Air" to "Zoos," we learn that potential effects of global warming include the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases to previously uninfected areas, and that the world's six billion humans consume 40% of the planet's photosynthetic output. It is clear from the first entry that the book is as much an environmental primer as a science-based one. For example, we read under the topic "Air" that "We should not continue human activities that cause it to bring death and disease." As a biologist I was initially dismayed by the advocacy of a book I presumed would be more science-based. However, after accepting the book's dual nature as a handbook for both environmental activists as well as for those interested in a general introduction to the field of ecology, I was better able to enjoy its value-laden text.