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Encyclopedia of the Biosphere by Ramon Folch

2000; 11 volumes


Gale Group

Here's an eleven-volume work that only Whole Earth or Library Journal would review. The original edition (l993?98) was in Catalan. Now in English, Encyclopedia of the Biosphere has 4,000 photographs, myriads of maps and diagrams, and special inserts on specific topics such as eiderdown, the history of languages in the Caucasoid Mountains, and the Gaia Hypothesis.

With this readable, breezy, immense survey, Whole Earth and everybody else has, in a single publication, a whole Earth history and great info for bioregional advocates. I especially like the intros to biospherics (Volumes 1 and 11) and the depictions of local peoples. The Encyclopedia celebrates regional competence and livelihoods with oodles of interesting facts; for instance, how air pressure changes the blood of high-altitude peoples, and how their lack of iodine increases goiters. We urbanites can forget that bioregional peoples?living intimately with croplands, forests, fisheries, and grasslands?still make up half the planet's population.

The Encyclopedia's flavor is UNESCO?sweetly humane and a bit romantic. For example, it depicts UNESCO's biosphere reserve system with no indication that many of these reserves have fallen apart or that other forms of protecting biomic jewels have proved more effective. The technical info is extremely competent; the concepts clearly spoken, up-to-date, and gorgeously illustrated.

If you have any influence on your library, or want to launch planetary consciousness within a favorite organization, encourage them to buy or donate these volumes. For readers from late high school and on. ?PW

"You may find it hard to swallow the notion that anything as large and apparently inanimate as the Earth is alive. Surely you may say, the Earth is almost wholly rock and nearly all incandescent with heat. I am indebted to Jerome Rothstein, a physicist, for his enlightenment on this, and other things. In a thoughtful paper on the living Earth concept...he observed that the difficulty can be lessened if you let the image of a giant redwood tree enter your mind. The tree undoubtedly is alive, yet 99% [of it] is dead. The great tree is an ancient spire of dead wood, made of lignin and cellulose by the ancestors of the thin layer of living cells that go to constitute its bark. How like the Earth, and more so when we realize that many of the atoms of the rocks far down in the magma were once part of the ancestral life from which we all have come."

?James E. Lovelock, from The Ages of Gaia

Volume 1: Our Living Planet

Volume 2: Tropical Rainforests

Volume 3: Savannahs

Volume 4: Deserts

Volume 5: Mediterranean Woodlands

Volume 6: Temperate Rainforests

Volume 7: Deciduous Forests

Volume 8: Prairies and Boreal Forests

Volume 9: Lakes, Islands, and the Poles

Volume 10: Oceans and Seashores

Volume 11: The Biosphere Concept and Index


ISBN: 0787645095

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