Foundations of the Earth

Global Ecological Change and the Book of Job

H. H. Shugart

Columbia University Press

Foundations of the Earth

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Pub Date: July 2014

ISBN: 9780231169080

384 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $45.00£35.00

Pub Date: July 2014

ISBN: 9780231537698

384 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $44.99£35.00

Foundations of the Earth

Global Ecological Change and the Book of Job

H. H. Shugart

Columbia University Press

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" God asks Job in the "Whirlwind Speech," but Job cannot reply. This passage—which some environmentalists and religious scholars treat as a "green" creation myth—drives renowned ecologist H. H. Shugart's extraordinary investigation, in which he uses verses from God's speech to Job to explore the planetary system, animal domestication, sea-level rise, evolution, biodiversity, weather phenomena, and climate change.

Shugart calls attention to the rich resonance between the Earth's natural history and the workings of religious feeling, the wisdom of biblical scripture, and the arguments of Bible ethicists. The divine questions that frame his study are quintessentially religious, and the global changes humans have wrought on the Earth operate not only in the physical, chemical, and biological spheres but also in the spiritual realm. Shugart offers a universal framework for recognizing and confronting the global challenges humans now face: the relationship between human technology and large-scale environmental degradation, the effect of invasive species on the integrity of ecosystems, the role of humans in generating wide biotic extinctions, and the future of our oceans and tides.
Foundations of the Earth serves as a primer to our planet's natural and anthropological history, prompted by questions raised in the book of Job. With his ingenious use of Job, H. H. Shugart effectively bridges ancient issues and modern ones. William P. Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary, author of "The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder"
H. H. Shugart compiles a wide knowledge of history and archeology to show how humans have addressed some of the questions first posed by God in the Book of Job—what is the origin of our planet, how does it function, what is the role and impact of humans on the Earth, and what is our likely future? He posits biblical origin for these current questions in earth-system science and global-change biology. William H. Schlesinger, president, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
H. H. Shugart provides valuable insights into the foundational ecological issues we are grappling with today, using the 'whirlwind' questions to illustrate his points and including Job's message of 'man in nature' instead of 'master of nature,' a distinction that is particularly relevant in today's world of climate change and species extinctions. It is a beautifully written and compelling overview of how the world works, and I recommend it to all! Brian Walker, author of Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World
In this engaging and illuminating primer on environmental science, world ecosystems scholar Shugart... demonstrates that science knows a lot about the questions God asked Job, questions pertaining to the birth of the universe, the taming of wild beasts, the course of the stars and heavenly bodies... and more. Library Journal (starred review)
Thoroughly documented yet easy to read... Highly recommended. CHOICE
Shugart should be congratulated for writing a book which is both intellectually fascinating and easy to read - but also important. It can be recommended as a worthwhile gift for school students or aged acdemics; perhaps it should also be required reading for politicians obsessed with the immediate and short-term. British Ecological Society Bulletin
Preface
1. Introduction
2. Laying the Foundation of the Earth
3. Taming the Unicorn, Yoking the Aurochs: Animal and Plant Domestication and the Consequent Alteration of
the Surface of the Earth
4. Freeing the Onager: Feral and Introduced Animals
5. Bounding the Seas, Freezing the Face of the Deep: When the Sea Is Loosed from Its Bonds
6. The Ordinances of the Heavens and Their Rule on Earth: Adaptation and the Cycles of Life
7. The Dwelling of the Light and the Paths to Its Home: Winds, Ocean Currents, and the Global Energy Balance
8. Making the Ground Put Forth Grass: The Relationship Between Climate and Vegetation
9. Feeding the Lions: The Conservation of Biological Diversity on a Changing Planet
10. Making Weather and Influencing Climate: Human Engineering of the Earth
11. Conclusion: Comprehending the Earth
Notes
Index

Read the introduction to Foundations of the Earth:

About the Author

H. H. "Hank" Shugart holds the W. W. Corcoran Chair in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and has produced more than 400 scientific publications that largely involve systems ecology and ecosystems modeling strongly focused on regional and global change. His previous book How the Earthquake Bird Got Its Name and Other Tales of Unbalanced Nature is considered a classic in modern ecology.