Paul Ehrlich on Extinction & Joseph Luzzi on Dante, Grief and Recovery

Biologist Paul Ehrlich discusses the book he co-wrote, The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals and Writers Voice airs one of the year’s Ten Best Shows: our interview with Joseph Luzzi about his memoir, In A Dark Wood.

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich is best known for the 1968 book he co-wrote with his wife Anne Ehrlich, The Population Bomb. That book forecasted mass global starvation in the 1980’s due to overpopulation. Although he was widely criticized after the green revolution boosted agricultural yields, Ehrlich has held to the position that overpopulation still threatens mass famine. And now that the Green Revolution seems spent, his predictions look increasingly likely to come true, albeit some 50 or so years late.

But Ehrlich is now concerned with more than humanity’s fate due to overpopulation. Paul and Anne Ehrlich have teamed up with ecologist Gerardo Ceballos to alert the public to an even more fundamental threat — the mass extinction of species that is already accelerating. That also threatens humans as the web of life on which we depend for our survival is shredded.

The Ehrlichs and Ceballos have come out with a book they hope will dazzle the senses at the same time that it grips the imagination with what we stand to lose as we impoverish the planet of its species.

Do you really want to live in a world without elephants? Without tigers? Without songbirds? And all the other less charismatic species on which the entire edifice of creation depends? Filled with gorgeous photographs, the book shows those creatures in all their magnificent splendor.

It has a grim title, The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals. Yet its message is not without hope. The authors believe that if they can touch our hearts through seeing the beautiful creatures we threaten, we will be moved to act in time to save them.

Ehrlich is Professor of Population Studies and of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Crafoord Prize (which is a substitute for the Nobel Prize in fields of science where the Nobel is not given), as well as numerous other international honors.

Read an excerpt from Annihilation of Nature

Joseph Luzzi
It’s the time of year for Best Ten Lists.

We have one, too, and it’s headed by this interview with Dante scholar Joseph Luzzi about his memoir, In A Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love.

Luzzi lost his pregnant wife in a terrible auto accident. His daughter was born via emergency Caesarean section just before her mother succumbed to her injuries. He tells us how he was guided by the wisdom of Dante’s Divine Comedy in the process of healing from that traumatic loss. We air an edited version of that interview on this episode. Listen to the original episode here.

See our entire Writer’s Voice Ten Best of 2015 list with links to the original interviews.