The Story of Life and the Environment
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The Story of Life and the Environment  an African perspective
The Story of Life and the Environment
A distant galaxy photographed from the Hubble telescope.
A group of women fishing with baskets in the Okavango River, Botswana
A hawksbill turtle swimming over a coral reef off Zanzibar, Tanzania
Californian coast redwoods, the largest trees on Earth
The Story of Life and the Environment is a book that belongs in many places - as a reference book in all our libraries; a teaching textbook in science classrooms and university lecture halls; and a family education resource in every home.

It presents some of the most important ideas in the life sciences, and makes it exciting and accessible to the public without losing the complexity of the scientific knowledge at stake. The rich interplay between high-quality illustrations and a flowing science-accurate narrative, takes us from the early origins of humankind to the contemporary problems that threaten the ecosystems in which we live and hope to survive.

The Story of Life and the Environment starts at the beginning of time. It shows how our universe and solar system came about and how our planet has transformed over more than 4.567 billion years. It explores this biodiversity and the processes that resulted in the divergent living creatures that share this planet with us. It explains the workings of ecosystems and how environmental factors act in sustaining all the ecosystems of our planet.

We are the generation that can make a difference not only to our own lives, but also to the lives of following generations. If we are to make that difference and become responsible citizens of Earth, all of us will have to become actively involved in protecting the environment. We can do this by educating people about the dangers of habitat destruction, pollution and the irresponsible use of natural resources. To illustrate how this can be achieved, the concluding chapter of The Story of Life and the Environment is about how to care for our planet.

Humans are clever and resourceful and have the ability to adapt and survive, as has been shown throughout the ages. However, if our life-support systems fail, we are lost. We have only one Earth - and nowhere else to go.

Table of Contents covered in the book:
Life on Earth
The Diversity of Life Today
How Our World Works
How Population Works
Communities of Life
Interactions of Life
Life in Fresh Water
Life in the Oceans
Life on Land
The Rise of Humans
Caring for our Planet

About the Authors:

Jo van As, compiling author, has been HOD of Zoology & Entomology at South Africa's University of the Free State since 1988. He is a leading expert on African fish parasites.

Johann du Preez, Departmental Chair of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State, is a recognised plant ecologist and environmental consultant with a passion for environmental education.

Leslie Brown is Professor in Plant Ecology at the University of South Africa. His research interests include plant phytosociology, veld management, restoration, long-term monitoring, and plant / animal interactions.

Nico Smit is Professor of Ecology at the School of Environmental Sciences and Development at the University of North West, Potchefstroom campus. He has published more than 60 papers in international journals and delivered over 100 presentations at international and national conferences. He has also written numerous popular science articles and contributed to national and international natural history TV shows.


Book Launch
From left to right: Leslie Brown, Johann du Preez, Jo van As, Nico Smit. Photographer: Mike Tippett.
Story of Life