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The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change

by Stephen R. Palumbi
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. 288 pages.

A critical look at the intersection of evolution and high-tech modern life. Evolution is not only the slow process that ruled the rise and fall of the dinosaurs over hundreds of millions of years. It also happens quickly — so quickly and frequently that it changes how all of us live our lives: drugs fail because diseases evolve; insects overcome the most powerful pesticides; HIV and tuberculosis develop resistance to the newest drugs in a few months. This is evolution with teeth. While the ecological scars of human technology have been well publicized, the broad evolutionary consequences of antibiotic and antiviral use, insecticide applications, and herbicide bioengineering are largely unexplored. Does the human impact on evolution falter at the borders of our own species? Or do we, in fact, generate our own evolutionary pressure? Enthusiastically written for a wide audience, The Evolution Explosion examines these practical and critical aspects of modern evolution with simplicity, force, and humor.