Preface -- Eric R. Pianka


© Eric R. Pianka

I have spent half a century studying lizards as well as trying to understand as much as possible about the one and only spaceship all Earthlings live on. I am a father and a doting grandfather, extremely concerned about the future for my descendents (my "afterlife"). I am also a university professor and an ecologist. I hold two doctorate degrees and have been teaching ecology at the graduate level for almost half a century.

This book constitutes a collection of readings I prepared for a freshman seminar course on the human overpopulation crisis. I regularly teach "Ecology, Evolution, and Society" an undergraduate class for non-majors. My textbook "Evolutionary Ecology," first published in 1974, has been through six editions and has been translated into Greek, Japanese, Polish, Russian and Spanish and is available in a 7th edition from Google as an eBook.

I have circled the globe and crossed the Pacific on the surface twice. I have traveled to five continents and been to over two dozen different countries: Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Panama, Samoa, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tahiti, The United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Even though I have done my utmost to see and experience as much of this world as possible in my one short life, I regret that I have been unable to get to Borneo, the Lesser Sunda Islands (home of giant Komodo monitor lizards), Madagascar, or New Guinea.

Deep down, most people secretly know that we are on an unsustainable course, but they seem to have made a collective decision just to keep wandering on, impervious to obvious signs of an impending crisis. We are on a suicidal course and this is intended to be a wake up call.

I hope to arouse those who think to take action. I have appointed myself as the long-overdue and much-needed conscience for humankind in the hope of turning others into better-informed and responsible citizens of this, our one and only spaceship, planet Earth. This generation is the last with decision-making powers to save our spaceship for all future earthlings, including human beings. In the process, I hope readers will be embarrassed, feel guilty, and be forced to escape from denial, choose to escape from being controlled by their instincts, and begin to live up to their full potential as human beings. Above all, please think, care, and try.

Although the challenge is most certainly global, my comments are aimed primarily at the most profligate abusers, my fellow Americans. We can do relatively little about how people in other countries behave, but perhaps if we in the USA were to lead the way, people elsewhere might be convinced to take similar actions to save the planet for other earthlings as well as for our own descendants and future generations of humans (our afterlives).

Last updated 23 May 2017 by Eric R. Pianka