Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. 6-7

Illustrations

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pp. vii-vii

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Prelude

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pp. 1-5

Peeking out from the starboard side of the jib, I could see another 5-foot wave rolling toward us. I shifted my weight out, leaning back over the water to level the heel we took on as a nearly ...

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1. Plants and Medicine

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pp. 6-27

In 1992 the us food and drug administration (FDA) approved an agent called Taxol for the treatment of ovarian cancer. In the years that followed, the list of cancers found to be susceptible to Taxol grew significantly, so ...

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2. Humans and Plants

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pp. 28-48

One of the most inspiring things about plants is their individuality. Each species has its own distinct set of features, such as a flower unique in scent or color or a fruit distinct in taste. Even the same plant—a tree in the ...

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3. The Biophilia Factor

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pp. 49-72

In the 1980s biologist E. O. Wilson proposed that humans possess an innate love for all forms of life. He described this instinctive human attraction to nature as biophilia, and this perhaps explains why many people enjoy activities such as hiking and bird watching ...

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4. In Earth’s Garden

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pp. 73-93

One of the most amazing things about nature is the vast body of information that it contains. Humans have been studying and exploring the natural world since the dawn of our species’ evolution, and only in the last several centuries have we achieved a basic ...

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5. Vanishing Life

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pp. 94-118

The human species is a recent development in Earth’s history. Our lineage, the hominin lineage, comprising extinct human relatives and extant humans, arose between 5 million and 8 million years ago. Compared with creatures like the platypus and the spiny ...

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6. Out of Nature

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pp. 119-142

Nature is undergoing a steady process of deterioration. Its diversity has dwindled at a rate that has been nearly imperceptible to our species, a species now relatively out of touch with nature. But to ...

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7. Learning to Coexist

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pp. 143-167

The discovery and development of new plant-based drugs are imperative to the advance of medicine and the improvement of human health. But the process of identifying and characterizing new plants and plant compounds, and the subsequent development ...

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8. The Forest for Its Trees

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pp. 168-188

Biodiversity conservation requires that we understand the big picture of life on Earth, especially how our actions affect ecosystems, which contain all the living forms that make our existence possible. We, like all the creatures around us, are the products of ...

Bibliography

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pp. 189-197

Index

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pp. 199-204

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About the Author

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pp. 205-205

Kara Rogers is the senior editor of biomedical sciences at Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. She holds a BS in biology and a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology and is a member of the National Association of Science Writers. When not writing or reading about ...