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Our Dying Planet


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Our Dying Planet

New Review in 2012
Our Dying Planet is a crash course in the ecological crises that face us all, starting from ecologist Peter Sale’s own observations of the “unfolding tragedy” of the world’s coral reefs. It’s not just the reefs that concern Sale: overfishing, deforestation, and climate change all get their turn. All of these cases are the result of the interconnected ways in which humans interact with the environment, whether through deliberate, wholesale destruction of rainforests or by accidentally bumping into coral reefs while diving for pleasure. Sale asks why we tend to view ecology as little more than “advanced nature study” (when according to E.O. Wilson it is “more complex . . . than physics”) and wonders why it is so difficult to get people to understand and prevent ecological disasters.


Sale is more upbeat in later chapters of the book, sketching out prospects for stabilization, if not recovery. Our Dying Planet is not so much an unheeded prophecy as a deeply researched and clear-eyed call to arms.”

Richard P. Grant, in The Scientist, January 2012


“A bold and convincing explication of the forces inexorably leading to an environmental collapse, and sooner than most people think.  No one will read Our Dying Planet and remain complacent, but Sale sketches some promising paths out of our dilemma.”

Daniel Simberloff, author of Strangers in Paradise: Impact and management of non-indigenous species in Florida


“[Sale] points out that we have ‘most of the needed tools and techniques to change our ways and move toward a more sustainable future, if we act intelligently and make our decisions rationally.’  Our Dying Planet is a book well worth reading and heeding.”

Ken Black, in the Bracebridge Weekender, 16th September

“Every new generation accepts a more impacted environment as normal.  Our Dying Planet, by Peter Sale is a wakeup call for all of us. Even though the title sounds pessimistic, Sale puts a cautiously optimistic spin on how we can address our environmental problems.”

Judi Brouse, in Muskoka Magazine, September 2011

“Our Dying Planet, one of the most readable, deeply scientific, and compelling descriptions of how human behaviour impacts the life support systems that all lives depend upon.”

Dick Riseling, on WJFF Connections, WJFF.FM, Monday 10th October, 2011


Our Dying Planet is about how and why our planet is dying, but its most important message is that this does not have to happen. We can prevent the catastrophe that is looming, but only if we act, and act soon. A good future is possible for the world and for humanity, but we will have to make the right decisions and take the right actions if we are to get there.

Coral reefs are currently on track to become the first ecosystem actually eliminated from the planet, a potential eradication being caused by us. Human activities are creating enormous changes on this planet which sustains us, and the alarming plight of coral reefs is just one of these.

The decline of reefs is a motif used throughout Our Dying Planet. Peter Sale draws from his own extensive work on coral reefs, and from recent research by other ecologists, to explore the many ways we are changing our planet and to explain why it matters. Weaving his own firsthand field experiences around the world into the narrative, Sale brings ecology alive while giving a solid understanding of the science at work behind today’s pressing environmental issues. He delves into topics as varied as overfishing, deforestation, biodiversity loss, use of fossil fuels, population growth, and climate change while discussing the real consequences of our growing ecological footprint.

Most importantly, this passionately written book emphasizes that a gloom-and-doom scenario is not inevitable, and as Sale explores alternative paths, he considers the ways in which science can help us realize a better future.



More Praise for Our Dying Planet


“RECOMMENDATION: A must read for those that care about the planet Earth.

                                                                     The Birdbooker Report, Monday 22nd August, 2011


“A marine biologist warns that at “our ecological bank account is in overdraft.”… Sale provides much food for thought in this provocative look at a hotly debated subject.”

                                                                  from Kirkus Reviews, 1 August 2011


“Disruptions such as overfishing, forest desecration, ocean acidification and pollution, and the wholesale destruction of coral reefs have already changed the earth disastrously. These problems will not fix themselves. For an articulate and crucial discussion of the mess we’ve made — and with some small hope for the future — you must read this book.”

                      Richard Ellis, author of The Empty Ocean and The Great Sperm Whale


Our Dying Planet is the most powerful statement on the future of life on earth I have ever read. Starting with the title, which I admire greatly, it delivers the sort of honest, accurate, no-punches-pulled assessment you would expect from a scientist who has seen the problems first hand. Coral reefs appear set to be the first major ecosystem to go extinct. Few people know more about this than Peter Sale. If every scientist were to speak as convincingly as Sale, the public might finally grasp the seriousness of the course on which we’ve set our planet.”

                                                            Randy Olson, author of Don’t Be Such a Scientist

“Peter Sale’s book shows us the exquisite sensitivity of ecosystems to the consequences of human activity. This is the anthropocene epoch, a time when human beings have become a force of nature, altering properties of the biosphere on a geological scale. Read this and you will know it is very late and we must act.”

                  David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance and The Legacy