#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. Burger

Posted Friday, 28 April, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Complexity” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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musings about the introduction:

Right out of the gate, Burger warmed me to his compassionate view of life when he cross-compared the natural biodiversity of our world with the multicultural diversity of our biped humanity. If you lament about the world at large long enough, there is an incredible girth of biological ancestry percolating all round us. It is not just our footprints and our legacies which are resplendently observational in this world, but there is a depth of evolutionary evidence of how the natural world has progressed forward through millennia and augmented itself to become adaptive and changeable per each environ and region on Earth.

I must admit, part of the reason why I had my eye keenly attached to Paleontology was to understand the back-history of the natural world. When I uncovered AstroBotany a few years ago, it took studying the subject from a completely new point of view and by such, granting a new angle of approach. I think this is why I was originally considering studying Archaeology rather than Anthropology; as although I am dearly interested in culture and traditional heritages of different ethnic backgrounds; one thing has kept constant about my scientific interests: I like to dig into the past and seek out the mannerisms of the how species and humanity lived through the different ages. Inasmuch as I appreciate uncovering the socio-psychological make-up of our own actions, there is a measure of joy in back-tracking through how the natural world has evolved forward through their own timeline.

He breaks down the terms: Biodiversity vs. Complexity as both directly relate to how our understanding of the natural order and presence of everything (human vs natural world) correlate, inter-relate and are individually unique from one another too. Systematically there are intersections of everything and everyone on Earth (as one would naturally observe) but when he mentioned the tundra and the the rain forest, I just smirked! Those were the two biodiverse regions which perked my interest early-on as a child. I loved how uniquely different those regions were and how incredible it was to peer into the wildlife and the natural organisations which called each space their home. The habitats were awe-inspiring for a girl growing into an appreciation for conservation and preservation of natural environs. I was a budding environmentalist before I ever understood the full spectrum of Earth’s fragile balance between ecological preservations and the impact of our human actions. By the age of ten, when I first saw Medicine Man in the theater, you could say it all came full circle and since then, I have been passionately curious about the steps we can take to reduce our industrialism and live more authentically towards a greener tomorrow using upcycling, recycling and natural innovative science to improve our way of life.

Understanding SPECIES:

Growing up in Science class, one of my favourite bits to graduating into seventh grade was starting to get a more scientific foundation on the order of species. My seventh grade teacher had a living biosphere of his own – we had an outside zoo attached to our classroom where farm animals resided in a lovingly cared for pen and where inside, we had aquariums and cages full of small animals which added to the joy of researching natural habitats. It is also where I fell in love with the class hamster but never thought I’d be blessed to take him home. He lived four years, nearly five (impressive for a little guy) and he still has a fond place in my heart. Aside from meeting my first ham-ham of joy, I was eagerly itching to better understand how everything in the natural world was organised and classified. Mind you, for a girl in a classroom full of peers who’d much rather be outside in the sunshine, I was an oddity. I loved being holed up inside my textbook and musing about how everything in nature had it’s own blueprint to identify itself. There was a specific tool set in nature to give you clues and hints towards how everything belongs by genus, species and family. Of course it’s more complex than this, as you can read about in this article but I was simply mentioning I was wicked fascinated by the conception of everything having a particular place in which to belong.

I used to read hierarchical charts like Amateur Ancestry Sleuths read genealogical graphs and family trees! There is a lot of data about how the natural world is understood and broken down into Plants and Animals. The hierarchy is the code which helps you understand the connections and the diverse components of what makes each individual organisation uniquely themselves whilst having a comparatively similar component of another species, too. There are cross-similarities as much as there are inherent differences and I have always wanted to have a better foundation of understanding of how all of this co-relates and diverts into sub-categories of order. To put it a different way, understanding the natural world is similar to having a blueprint of the break-down of genre in Literature. You have sub-genres and sub-categories of interest broken into thematic inclusions and styles of crafting stories together through either Fiction or Non-Fiction. You can spend a lifetime seeking stories moving through genres and generations of writers whose influences continue to shape the literary world. So, too, is the same for understanding the biosphere. You first have to understand how to approach the topic and then, you get to have fun exploring everything that makes Earth bio-diverse as it is right now.

I was quite charmed Burger chose to avoid discussing Insects – as personally, they never interested me in the least! I have a love/hate relationship with Insects overall. Yes, I recognise they have a place in this world but on a truly personal level of honest reflection? I could literally bypass their presence in my life. There are few exceptions to this rule: butterflies, dragonflies and a few others to make my soul smile but in general, the world of insects and I are not on speaking terms.

Plant Diversity | Essential to Biodiversity:

I oft wondered why my peers gave little credit or credence to plant and trees. After all, it wasn’t hard to understand how we are able to breathe (ie. trees are our source of oxygen) but so, too it wasn’t hard to fathom how the flora and fauna in a natural habitat was key to a sustainable habitat for all the lovely creatures who called that local environ their home. I used to be keenly invested in tracing photosynthesis on both land and sea. When it comes to the ocean, the most unique discovery was how life is still adaptively responsive beyond the layer of sunlight penetration where the world is completely dark and absent from the effects of photosynthetic processes. Mind you, those creatures in the deepest layers of the ocean freak me out of my skull! They are straight out of a story of Horror but on the flip side of that coin, it’s not their fault they are structurally horrific to look at as to them, we’re the odd ones who scare them!

Cosmic Complexities:

Since I was a Young Astronaut, I have been especially curious about the Cosmic diversity and complexities of life in the vacuum of space. Partially why I loved spending so much time at my local Science Center was for the joy of uncovering more about life in the universe from our humble observational knowledge back here on Earth. It is also why I have a penchant for reading and writing Hard Science Fiction stories. There is a lot more understanding on the diverse aspects of what makes the environments on the planets so eloquently complex nowadays than even when I was growing up as much more is known. I oft found it curious how at one point in time, Science Fiction was a bit limited in speculating a living environment for planets; as basic science for those locations was still anyone’s educated guess. To find out which of the planets are sustainable for life and which ones are a boiling stew of environmental causticity is quite humourous now.

The irony I felt was that if our Earth is diversely complex and structured, why would we think the Cosmic structure of those planets would be less than our own? Wouldn’t it be a better working theory to acknowledge the planets in our solar system were equally complex to understand if Earth is still being processed, categorised and understood on a fundamental level?

I also liked getting a small grasp of how the other planets keep our planet healthy – I knew there was more to the ‘order’ and ‘distance’ of the planets than what was being shared during my school years. For starters, nothing is coincidental – not in life and not in nature. There are reasons for everything even if we are not entirely clued into those reasons until a day of new understanding alights on our path, which doesn’t discredit there is a purpose for why things simply ‘are’. It was quite curious how the placement of the planets not only effect our planet’s health but they also, effectively alter how each of the planets can thrive in their own unique environments, too. Again, there is more to the world and the universe than what is generally understood. For starters, by what is being explained the very positioning of the other planets create a ‘fail-safe’ for Earth; an invisible protective shield for drawing objects away from us inasmuch as consistently influencing our weather and the cycle of living habitats.

Why Earth is a blessed place to call ‘home’:

Aside from contemplating the spherical dimension of the sky and the curvature of the Earth, I oft contemplated gravity and our inability to realise how gravity itself places such an important role in our lives. The absence of our daily visual observation of how we can walk, stand and run on solid ground is a credit to the hidden metrics of how gravity influences our way of life. However, there are other hidden factors which are indicators of how life on Earth is sustained and able to be generationally increased. Everything from our tilt to our cyclic seasons to how our girth and size allows us to be spread between different climatic zones.

Laughs. When Burger started to talk about ‘plate tectonics’, it reminded me about how my classmates nearly groaned about how I wanted to spend an incessant amount of time discussing the subject! Mostly the science behind this Earthbound marvel is why we study Volcanology and have a ready appreciation for earthquake science which is still in the rudimentary stages of being understood. Interesting new point of insight: plate tectonics re-release carbon dioxide! Now, why did my science teachers leave out that bit of fodder from our chats? It’s a system of purging a surplus of toxic gas if it were to be allowed to continue to collect in places where it’s unhealthy levels would start to interfere with the natural order of our world. Now that’s a new layer of insight past what influences volcanoes and earthquakes and the dynamic shift in topographical elevations!

Religion and Science:

As I have blogged about in the past, my pursuit of Science is from a girl who walks in faith. I am not the first nor the last person who has found common ground in pursuing Science without forsaking her faith. To me, to understand how the universe and Earth are in sync with each other is another extension of understanding the universal truths of where we live. It isn’t to takeaway from religion nor to fully embrace Science without faith; we each walk our own path and make our minds on how best to approach the larger questions which will always be present in our world. (see also Review) Burger adds his two cents on the subject and in effect, leaves the reader to decide where they stand which is the only way to leave it, truly.

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One interesting point in this section of his Introduction is when he stipulated this:

But science is different; it is nothing more than a pragmatic way of trying to understand the world through carefully controlled experiments, the origin and elaboration of biodiversity are historical questions. In these instances we formulate historical scenarios and then seek evidence from nature to support or reject a given scenario. It’s very much like detectives trying to solve a crime.

-quoted from Complexity by William C. Burger with permission of the publisher

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On this vein of thought, the study of Biodiversity is a funneling of retracing the history of the natural world in pursuit to understand where we are today. It is another way of knowing why our natural environment is changing and re-defining itself once more through geological evolution. It’s a mark of historical reference to better understand what happened in the past in order to continue to strive towards a better future.

Land and Sea Variants of Biological Life:

As Burger has concentrated his research and observations to terrestrial entities rather than oceanographic species, he does give a brief interlude about how the ocean is enriched by biodiversity if only as a footnote on the subject. The oceans account for 90% of the living sphere but they contain a radically reduce amount of living organisms when cross-compared to those living on land (ourselves included!). I have known about this for quite a long while – as I spent a bit of time during seventh grade in a different school than the one I hinted about earlier (where I adopted my first hamster). In the former school, where I had spent sixth grade as well; I had a wicked lovely science teacher who taught through experiments and encouraged us to have an independent mind. My second science teacher that year attempted this but fell short a bit due to angst stemming out of devastating budget cuts (ie. he lost all funding to keep his animals). In the first school, my teacher introduced a broad appreciation for the oceans, the currents and the cycle of how the oceans are controlled by the moon and tides. It was a wicked introduction but also, affirming by scale and design: this is when I realised how large 90% of anything truly is in proportion to geologic size. I was developing a healthy interest in oceanography, thermodynamics, geophysics, marine biology and paleooceanology with a small interest in climatology which would increase lateron.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#ArbourDay #NonFiction Book Review | “Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity” by William C. BurgerComplexity
Subtitle: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity
by William C. Burger
Source: Direct from Publisher

This very readable overview of natural history explores the dynamics that have made our planet so rich in biodiversity over time and supported the rise and dominance of our own species.

Tracing the arc of evolutionary history, biologist William C. Burger shows that cooperation and symbiosis have played a critical role in the ever increasing complexity of life on earth. Life may have started from the evolution of cooperating organic molecules, which outpaced their noncooperating neighbors. A prime example of symbiosis was the early incorporation of mitochondria into the eukaryotic cell (through a process called “endosymbiosis”). This event gave these cells a powerful new source of energy. Later, cooperation was again key when millions to trillions of individual eukaryotic cells eventually came together to build the unitary structures of large plants and animals. And cooperation between individuals of the same species resulted in complex animal societies, such as ant colonies and bee hives.

Turning to our own species, the author argues that our ability to cooperate, along with incessant inter-group conflict, has driven the advancement of cultures, the elaboration of our technologies, and made us the most “invasive” species on the planet. But our very success has now become a huge problem, as our world dominion threatens the future of the biosphere and confronts us with a very uncertain future.

Thought-provoking and full of fascinating detail, this eloquently told story of life on earth and our place within it presents a grand perspective and raises many important questions.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

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ISBN: 9781633881938

Genres: Biological Diversity, Botany, Evolution, Life Science, Non-Fiction, Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 14th June, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 380

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback & Ebook

Converse via: #Nature, #Conservation, #Biodiversity + #ScienceBooks

About William C. Burger

William C. Burger

William C. Burger is Curator Emeritus of the Department of Botany at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of the highly acclaimed Flowers: How They Changed the World and Perfect Planet, Clever Species.

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My review of Complexity:

Now that is a startling realisation! Earth has a fascination with the beetle! I hadn’t known fireflies and lady bugs were variants of the species, either! I never saw a firefly myself, but I grew up hearing stories of them or seeing them in movies where children are catching them. I thought it was such a clever insect – here you’ll notice more of my ‘exceptions’ to the rule of not being gracious to our insect ‘neighbours’. Ladybugs are such gentle spirits, they sprite about our living ecosystem and sometimes take a pensive rest on our hand or shoulder. I never minded them being around and they seem to be happy to make a short acquaintance whilst in-flight elsewhere on their journey. It did not surprise me the beetle adapted it’s exterior shell to be a hardened armour against predators – including human feet – nor did I find it surprising the VW Beetle took it’s namesake from an adaptive species which shares it’s love of being protective of it’s cargo! (ie. VW Beetles have a hard shell and cage structure which does save lives by not allowing rolling or hard crashing upside down to physically hurt it’s occupants; at least this was true for my family; our Beetle saved our lives)

I knew the scarab beetle might re-enter my life at some point! Those little guys scared me to the hilt in the Mummy films (with Brendan Fraser) but what moved me most is how distinctive their lives truly are carried out! Reminds me a bit of how ants have this extraordinary life through their tunnels and channels underground. There are whole networks of life above and below the surface happening everyday of our lives and their intricate mannerisms for survival are as dedicated to hard work as our own. I’ve been aware of scavengers for most of my life as I’ve been defending their presence (ie. my classmates took issue with them, why I know not!?) and celebrating the work they do in care of the dead. Reading now about the ‘burying beetle’ it makes perfect sense there would be this kind of family out there caring for carcasses left behind as their species died. By contrast, who knew the scarab beetle was responsible for keeping acres and hectares of land free of waste and are a key reason why waste is recycled to create new life rather than to cause disease? They are nature’s recycling gurus who take unwanted waste and use what is discarded to their own advantage whilst reducing it’s presence. Now there is a hearty lesson in these little guys lifestyle! They only use what is needed and they leave a footprint which reduces the waste products of others whilst contributing positively back to the biosphere. Hmm. If only we could take their lead!

Burger held my attention until he started discussing all the different kinds of insects which in the Introduction I felt misled me to think this was not inclusive of his study. When he starts to mention maggots on the same breath as the praying mantis, I honestly turnt the page ahead a bit to gauge where this part of his discourse was heading – as honestly, I seriously am not a girl who wants to know too many pertinent details about insects! I agree, their necessary and I leave them to their own devices but honestly! A gloss over is perfectly okay for me to denote their importance to the ecological world’s structure rather than a more in-depth analysis of what makes each of them ‘uniquely gifted’ to contribute ‘something’ the world cannot do without. My eyes fluttered through a few pages, seeing ‘gross’ in connection to a dissection (FYI: I purposely took days ‘off’ in high school to avoid dissections!) and landed a few pages forward where Burger picks up the conversation by talking about the development of animals on a cellular level.

When it comes to DNA coding and the history of Genetics as pertaining to how we are developed (or animals species are bourne) I was wholly enthused by this slice of living science in my senior year. I had skipped 11th grade quite happily, whilst spending a semester studying College Biology but the interesting bit to relate here is that those studies were less exciting than the ones I spent focused on freshman year, three years prior. It was during that turbulently challenging 9th grade year, I discovered Watson and Crick, Rosalind Franklin and the curiously curious history of DNA. It would be a year later as a sophomore where I developed a keen interest in Statistics but this particular year, it was how the code inside our cells could dictate everything about us that I found most inspiring. It is true – once you pull back the curtain on life’s mysteries, you can decode and understand most of the complexities of life; however, I do disagree on one point: to me there is always a measure of the mysterious which remains. We cannot expect to explain everything through Science even if I think this is the end goal of most scientists; it is not my agenda. I have a healthy curiosity but I hold back a bit of that curiosity to remain in awe of what doesn’t need to be explained in finite detail. In other words, there are things we should avoid questioning – such as the beauty of birth. We cannot discount the miraculous events in our lives and world. Nor should we attempt to explain away everything by a rational mind approaching such events from a reasonably plausible angle of explanation.

New term: Angiosperms!

I am loving this book! Now, I have a more posh way of talking about ‘flowering plants’ by their natural name of origin! Blessedly Burger provided me with a short-cut guide to read more about this section of interest whilst I could avoid reading about Bacteria. I have known how important it is to study Bacteria but to be honest, I find that subject as interesting as I do insects! In other words, neither are my cuppa tea – but I did glance through the section to make sure I didn’t shortchange myself by missing something quite important.

Skipping into Chapter Four:

One particular interest of my own heart is understanding the different regions in our climatic zones: as outlined by Burger himself, we have the distinctions of approaching this data by biogeographic regions, biotic provinces, ecoregions and biomes / plant communities. This is a break-down of our world in a way I have not studied previously but it makes sense to me to do so, as it’s rooting out how each climatic zone can be self-sufficient but yet, be cross-indexed against another zone who shares it’s climatic history. It could also be used as a tool to understand why some of us feel more at home in one climatic zone vs. another, even if we find that where we were bourne is not naturally agreeable to our biophysics as one might perceive.

This reminds me of why I feel so curiously in awe with the different ecoregions I see visually in documentaries, motion pictures and through the imagination of Science Fiction authors. There is something to be said for appreciating the natural world through all dimensions of our humanistic understanding; thus bringing the important need for bridging our reality with the fictional realms; if only to re-explore what is here by cross-comparing how others might interact with the same habitats themselves. To give a working theory or guide towards how changing how we function through climatic shifts and changes to offset the worst climatic catastrophes. Although, here is ready example of what is working if you consider the evidence of positive approaches can still be seen ‘out in nature’ where vitality of species and plants continue to defy the odds of their environmental challenges.

*One author continues to cross my mind as I read this narrative and that would be Julie E. Czerneda.

Burger recounts how forests and vegetation differ per each hemisphere and climatic zone; beginning of course in the tundra and moving southward. I found the refresher on this topic to be most enlightening as similar to my thoughts about the book overall, what I appreciated most is how the information you once considered fervent in your mind can now be re-assessed and re-affirmed through your readings of Burger’s Complexity. Although I appreciated the facts being recounted, part of what I missed in this section was less data and a bit more observational narrative. It was a bit bogged down in augmenting which species of plants and trees could be habituating in each zone across the continents than presenting a visual and tangible ‘feel’ for the land itself. This is of course the key difference between fiction and non-fiction but sometimes, scientific narratives can be quite heady such as this one illumines. The only thing that worked in my favour is that I have garnished an interest in documentaries and have an eye for naturalists and conservationist who are working towards bettering the earth. Through their eyes and through my own from watching their stories, I could fill in the gaps and make this part of the book more visually stimulating than reading figures and data.

Continuing into Chapter Seven:

A brief re-explanation outlined in the Introduction clue the reader into the cosmic historical data stemming from asteroid research and planetary observational data. In other words, how asteroids have impacted various planets in different ways and similarly the moon; whilst granting Earth the luxury of near-misses which saved us from a worse fate than climatic upheavals. Here we are examining the differences in pre-historic times spilt out of each distinctive class of ‘eon’ whilst disclosing the variety of fossil data as well. When it comes fossils and minerals – or the study of rocks especially, this also hints towards other interests I had in childhood.

As we entreat inside the early histories of biodiversity – from how species evolved through their more infancy of evolutionary periods, we see the start of how adaption was key to survival. There was a long process of trial and error, of allowing the Earth to build it’s resources to sustain life (in all it’s forms) and of allowing patience through time elapsing through different prototypical generations to allow new species and the origin of species to develop.

When Burger starts to outline the fruits and benefits of having Angiosperms in our natural habitats, you start to see a map of vegetation which is predominately beneficial to human consumption! I had no idea the following foods were developed out of this multi-evolutionary process: tomatoes, papaya, avocados, coconuts, peas, apples, cherries, pumpkin, watermelon, strawberries, cherimoya and pineapples! Secondly, we are granted the joy of having grain in our lives such as: wheat, rice, maize, barley, sorghum, rye, oats and millet whilst the legumes became plentiful as well: lentils, chickpeas, beans, soy and peanuts. Further developments included: pototoes, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava and carrots. If you stop to consider the bounty of this process you can see the origins of our natural diet which could be eaten through the Seasons and sustain human life. We were never meant to eat against the Seasons but our way of life has become so upturnt from the cycle of the natural world it is hard to re-set the clock whilst re-establishing a locavore attitude.

As an aside, Burger mentioned how humans are not the only species on Earth who parent their young as this behaviour trait is also observed in birds and mammals. On a small scale, you can observe this behaviour if you have a domestic animal companion (such as dogs, cats, birds, or even hamsters) because each animal has their own particular method of ‘teaching and imparting’ knowledge to their offspring. Sometimes you will even find a male more paternal than a female being maternal; as this was the case with my cats. Where our male cat ‘adopted’ the two younger kittens and raised them whereas his sister did not have one instinct of maternalism in her to give the time to do the same.

Continuing into Chapter Eight:

Burger attempts to debunk the reasons why the Complexity Theory hasn’t gained traction in the scientific community by explaining at the core of it’s argument we can all agree the natural world and the human body are equally complex structurally and through their molecular design. I agree with Burger, here. Why make something more complicated than what is readily acceptable to be understood? I had a sense he was going to move into talking about ‘life energy’ for all living organisms as it’s the next logical topic to broach. Without energy nothing on Earth would function properly and thereby, it makes sense to highlight what causes energy to sustain itself and regenerate to a degree where the species on Earth can not only thrive but generationally reproduce?

This is where the layers of life on Earth cross-sect together to bridge the gap between the natural world and humanity as we’re all co-dependent on each other. The harmony of nature and of mankind is constantly in need of repair and compassionate understanding for why both benefit each other. Energy to sustain life starts with Light and biometrically is fuelled through photosynthesis as previously outlined. Thus begins the cyclic circle of how life on Earth is consistently sustained and evolving forward through time.

Returning to Chapter Three | Species on the horizon:

What was interesting here is how Burger mentioned that Darwin’s classic work doesn’t expressively explain ‘the origin of species’ but rather hints towards there is an order to how species evolve. Darwin was also trying to assess the differences between a God-centred view of the world and a scientific explanation for how the world began. This is a timeless conversation which I believe will be continuously examined and re-examined for future millennia. Humans have free will and with it a free mind to accept what they believe and understand about their world. If we were ever to agree on this particular subject it would take a lot of compromise on both sides, as everyone approaches this topic differently. Neither side is wrong, it’s simply a difference of perception and of personal conviction of where individual beliefs lie.

For every person who observes a ‘new species’ in their natural environment, there is a greater chance of someone else observing the same species or a similar species as they did elsewhere. This is something I have contemplated myself off and on; as how do we know what we ‘discover’ is truly an original ‘entity’ anymore than a singular thought of ours being an originating thought about any one particular subject, topic or thread of response to a conversation? Where does originality and the definitive origin percolate into motion? To put it another way, how many writers create similar story-lines and title their stories with the same collection of words? The nexus of creative thought and of innovative design is repetitively regenerating through different generations. We make progress but we also find new concepts within past ideas and innovations.

It would stand to reason then there are only so many new species yet to be found, categorised and labelled. Also, as our climatic environment continues to shift and alter as time moves forward through the next centuries, so too, will natural environs and species adapt to this new clime of theirs. Even humans have to adapt to changing weather patterns and shortened growth periods for vegetation. All of us are in this life cycle together, but how do we strive towards a more balanced future where respect and harmony for the interconnectedness will be humanity’s true gift back to the biosphere?

In conclusion:

The joy of reading Complexity is the intricate nature of self-reflection on the theories of evolutionary thought as they walk parallel to religious beliefs and the concepts of early understandings of the natural order of life on Earth. Truly a tome of historical facts, data and analysis of how humans have interpreted their world through the concepts observed and dissected through scientific explorations. The chronicling of Earth’s bio-dynamic history is expertly explored whilst broaching into segues of focus and of endearing the reader to chart a course straight into the bio-metrical sphere of what supports every life system who calls Earth home.

There were many moments where I read passages which reminded me of things I overheard as a child, a teenager and an adult. Where information has evolved as much as it has been debated for each new generation which starts their own journey towards discovering their life’s purpose. So, too, I believe Science is trying to find it’s own pattern of purpose in dismantling the cosmic curiosities of ‘why’ life is supported on Earth and why Earth is different from other planets in our solar system. They have critical clues towards this end, reasonable theories why life is still only sustainable on one planet rather than multiple ones but to feel  the need to end the search for our understanding of the complexities of life itself? I think this will continue through the ages and perhaps, each new critical thinker, intellectual seeker and scientist alike will start to make enroads towards a greater acceptance of mutual respect for what we agree and disagree about on that particular subject.

In the latter quarter of the book, Burger talks about the human impact on Earth; of how our industrialism and technological advances are depleting our ability to maintain a healthy balance of the systems which have been in place long before we ever dreamt of inventing anything at all. He’s openly honest about how humanity has an unhealthy attachment to broaching into negative effecting practices which place our biosphere at risk and where long-term harm could effectively reverse the balance we have in such a state of fragility today. The reverse would not heal what is wrong but rather accelerate a decline of how the systems function and thrive. There is a need to heed the warnings around us but too many are focused on their own affairs or of progressing into the future better than how we live today to reconsider how our actions have an effect on everything else on Earth.

This reads like an impressive collection of analytical essays spilt through chapters of particular focus where Burger builds on his own thesis of why ‘complexity’ is not easily defined nor understood. He breaks everything down and then, finds a reason to re-examine everything from a different angle of approach. The best way to dissect a subject is to find everything that is known and unknown about it. This way it grants you a wider net of what is suppositionally conclusive and what is still being sorted in the wider scheme of things.  What I appreciated by Burger’s tenacity to thread his thoughts and his personal curious inclinations through Complexity is how he continued to ask questions and never once relied on one explanation to be the definitive end of the conversation.

On the clarity & conversative voice of Burger’s discourse:

I truly appreciate a bloke who is enthused by his field and his subjects of interests; Burger has taken his passion a step further by alighting the reader through a series of interludes and discourses about Biodiversity. He makes each chapter readable and digestible to the lay-reader whose motivated by self-directed studies such as I am. One thing I appreciated most is there isn’t a right nor wrong way to read this book! There are little gestures of guidance inside the Chapters themselves; where if you were keen on one thread of thought and didn’t want to wade through ‘diverted interests’ of the author, you can ‘skip forward’ and then, back-track through different portions of the Chapters you placed a marker on to return. The reason I appreciated this approach by Burger is it makes a quest for the reader – to determine what is important to each person who picks up the book to read for themselves.

Some readers might opt to read this start to finish without deviating from the rhythm Burger has instilled inside his narrative but for me, as I found topics and subjects ribbing my curiositia with a desire to know ‘more’ sooner than later, I decided to step out of the narrative and pull together my own threads of his discussions to where it became a working thesis of different streams of conversation rather than a singular lecture on the subject.

reading habit:

Lately, I am finding my reading exploits and adventures are best hooked into #SlackerRadio via headphones which give me this unique soundscape whilst I entreat inside the heart of the writer’s imagination. In this instance, rather than opting for a classical sound or an ambient soundscape – I felt directed to give two new stations a whirl: Indie Coffeehouse and the Mumford + Friends station! What I loved most about both stations is how the artists and bands have such an indie vibe about their musical selections. They each have their own unique style and method of creating their music and I love dissolving into their musical worlds. A nice compliment to reading a book about Science and the theories why the natural world is organised the way in which it is! You might want to give #SlackerRadio a try! The diverse stations and the wide variety of choices of sound and musical influences is what has me enjoying the tunes!

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This book review is courtesy of:

Prometheus Books

whilst being featured in conjunction with #FuellYourSciFi:

#FuellYourSciFi badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

If your curious about #BioDiversity & the biosphere, you'll love reading COMPLEXITY! Click To Tweet

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Complexity”, book synopsis, author photograph and author biography provided by the publisher Prometheus Books and used with permission. Small quotations from Prometheus Books titles can be used in critical reviews as stipulated in the Copyright Notice; thus my quoted text is being used with permission of the publisher. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie in Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna , #FuellYourSciFi badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I’m a social reader | I love sharing my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 28 April, 2017 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Asteroid Science, AstroBotany, Biblical History, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book for University Study, Bookish Discussions, Botany, Climate Change, Conservation, Ecology, Education & Learning, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, GeoPhysical History, History, Horticulture, Indie Author, Industrial Revolution, Jorie the Writer, Marine Biology, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Nature & Wildlife, Non-Fiction, Oceanography, Paleontology, Preservation, Prometheus Books, Science, Space Science, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World, Upcycle & Recycle Practices




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