Mon April 4, 2011
Oklahoma-Based Author and Biology Professor Stanley Rice Offers "Life of Earth"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's edition of our program, we visit once again with Dr. Stanley A. Rice, a biology professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma. Dr. Rice drops by to tells us about his latest book, "Life of Earth: Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-Aged, Stressed-Out World" (Prometheus Books). The book is basically a "biography" of our planet, as told from --- and seen through --- an informed (yet entirely accessible) evolutionary perspective. It's a readable, engaging, and sometimes even funny volume, in other words, that also dishes out a great deal of hard science. As one reviewer has noted of "Life of Earth" in the pages of Booklist: "Biologist Rice combines a dizzying array of science history with pop culture references and occasional doses of snark to craft a most unusual title. One does not usually find mentions of 'space cowboy' Bruce Willis, cats as catalysts, or God and angels all in the same discussion, but Rice is fearless and well-read (James Thurber on sex, Kissinger on power, Darwin on everything). His insistence on writing about the planet rather than life on the planet frames the typical climate discussion in a new light, while also allowing the author to riff on everything from photosynthesis to altruism. The latter, framed as an obvious evolutionary step, brings his argument full circle from how the planet is to what it can be. His assertion that survival of the fittest is not about brute strength but rather exists 'in animal species for which society is the most important aspect of the environment' goes against the grain, but clearly is a conclusion that merits further study. Thought-provoking and funny, this is science non-scientists can embrace."