Cover Image: Evolution Under Pressure

Evolution Under Pressure

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Evolution Under Pressure is such a cool way to introduce kids to evolution and conservation. The books is filled with illustrations and information presented in an age-appropriate, engaging manner. Would recommend for older, elementary age children.

Was this review helpful?

When passing through NG this book caught my eye and I was really intrigued with it. As such I asked for a chance to read it and only after my husband selected it to read did I get the feeling that this was a bad choice for me as a total read.

The book itself explores how humans have affected evolution whether it may be on how some species may be regressing in their evolutionary adaptations as a result of human pressures, of how species may have been formed since of human influences/not-so-selective breeding (think livestock and pets) and also how animals have adapted or evolved to survive in the affected environments that we have made. As a result model fictional creatures have been made to help young readers have a protagonist to focus on.

Furthermore although the book is of a decent size the majority of the space has been provided to brightly colored illustrations and diagrams thus breaking up the text. Furthermore there are sidebars and additional information included for readers who may want to know more.

And unfortunately the book takes a wrong turn for me at this point. Although I understand the target audience is for young children who really don't know much about the subject I just feel that the author is hoping people are stupid and not interested in the subject matter outside of this book to push her agenda. And as a result I have found myself lively tearing this book down as I have read it and instead of providing paragraphs addressing each issue I will just allow the author's words to speak for her and with small comment on my own in response.

We are the only ones who've decided to grow specific plants in specific places...
Check out some of these farmers - termites, leaf-cutter ants, damselfish, spotted jellies and marsh periwinkles just to name a few. Guess we aren't the only ones.

as we've become stronger, smarter and obsessed with stuff....
Really after we have had to put cautionary warnings on everything plus tell people to stop eating Tide Pods and doing blackout challenges

There have been some disputes over territory in the past - early humans probably didn't appreciate rhinos pooping next to their tent - but there was lots of room on Earth back then, especially in the parts of the of the world where rhinos roamed: Asia and Africa.
Early rhino types originated in North America and even the most previous non-modern rhino the woolly rhino (mentioned a few pages later) lived in Europe so rhinos roam more than Africa and Asia, which are their modern homes

We can make hunting rhinos illegal in every country and make the penalties higher for lawbreakers.
Such a great idea although the ban of trade of rhino horn was introduced in 1977 by Cites and punishments also included for any who were caught doing so yet rhinos are still being poached

All the technological means used to predict, locate, track and catch suspected poachers are means that are really expensive in places that may not be able afford those measures, which luckily for us is repeated on the next page

And you can also exercise your purchasing power by making sure you know what's in the products you buy
Honestly I don't think there are going to be much children who will be able to afford rhino horn or elephant ivory jewelry let alone even know where to go to purchase such items since of the said earlier ban

When hunting is done right - following guidelines put out by conservation groups and government organizations - it can be an important part of keeping animal populations under control.
So you are telling us we shouldn't hunt/poach animals to the extent of killing them off or making them regress in evolution but then we should do it to help animal populations instead of discussing introducing back keystone predators like persecuted wolves or assisting endangered big cats that would help to not only keep prey populations in check but also help restore the environment that all these animals live in together

We became curious, using our knowledge to seek out new lands. From Africa, we spread to what is now Europe and Eurasia
You just mentioned Europe twice - honest mistake?

Busy thinking of ourselves and our own survival, we didn't really notice our impact on others.
Very true since would you care right now what your carbon footprint is or what your influence is on the environment when you are worried about where you are going to camp safely for the night or even where your next meal is when there is nothing to fill your tummy?

expresses the possibility of using gene editing to make disease-resistant swine and tailless swine to avoid tail-biting
Again cost issues for gene edited swine as well as a moral issue and why not do like Sweden and improve swine-holding facilities to lower incidents of tail-biting while at the same time improving conditions for those swine in that environment?

Without crops - from wheat to beets - there's no bacon
Pigs don't always need crop foods to be raised for meat production - they can forage just like ancestral domestic swine did to be fattened up

Buy less meat (The animals we eat are often treated poorly and producing their food has a big environmental impact.)
Not sure where you are from Yolanda but poorly treated animals don't often make for good food and many farmers I know treat their animals pretty well and sometimes crop food has an even bigger impact than farming. Again confirmed in the next paragraph: There's still a limit to how much this will help, however. It's difficult for strict organic farming to sustain our growing population because it generally requires more land to produce the same amount of food.

Questions towards using gene edited livestock asks if it's good for us, for other plants and animals and for the environment.
Shouldn't we also be asking if it is good for the individual animals we are talking about?

But then evolution did its thing, and through a random gene mutation, one of these peppered moths - we'll call them Nash - was born with black wings
This is the first I have heard of a non-binary moth....

Moths are active during the night; butterflies are active during the day
Not always true there are some butterflies that come out at night and there are some diurnal moths

Some simple, everyday ways people living in developed countries can reduce electricity consumption
It's not people in developed countries that need to be as worried about their energy consumption but rather those in developing countries where the networks to stabilize it and measures to decrease energy consumption are still being put into place. This is mentioned on the next page

How would you feel if you couldn't have lights, heat and a dishwasher?
I live in the States and don't have a dishwasher except my hands or my husband's.

Mentions renewable energy sources are the way to go
Doesn't explain that many of those sources take up more land and resources that aren't recyclable once they fall apart while giving the same amount of energy or less than traditional sources that takes up less room (sounds like organic farming earlier in the book). Furthermore they aren't reliable at all times while in the case of most of them they also end up affecting the environment, its animals and plants such as dams that block migratory fish or wind turbines that make barricades for low-flying birds

Thanks to the industrial revolution, there were suddenly a lot more of us, and we started moving around even more - this time via big ships and airplanes. Where did we go this time? To the city.
Although travel may have been restricted due to the lack of airplanes and its general perils there were normal mass migrations to cities throughout history for one reason or another such as during the end of the Middle Ages after the decimation of people due to the bubonic plague.

All in all there was some pretty good spots of information in the book, especially towards the end of the book that explored the extremism of urban environments on its inhabitants and the ways that people are working on making those zones more green. And it was also rather nice to use all the animal models and their chapters to form a brief telling of the history of human's own evolution from one of the seemingly most weak animals in the tree of life to one of the most powerful creatures whose influence has driven other organisms around them. And even at this point I would have to say that I disagree with the author that natural evolution isn't working on humans as a whole since you can still see changes in the human race on a micro-level.

Unfortunately the inclusion of so much contradictory comments, the suggestion of using temporary yet really expensive means to band-aid the world's problems and the fact of throwing in Woke points just to curry a few points with readers you hope aren't going to look into these matters on their own just really grounded this book to non-readable for me.

**I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Was this review helpful?

An engaging, informative read connecting evolution and conservation. This book explores the way humans impact animal evolution with several case study examples. The basic concept of evolution is also explored along with ideas for conservation efforts. The book is interesting and easy to read. It has a lot of text per page with some illustrations and graphics, so this book is better suited to older children. Adults will enjoy this book as well.

Was this review helpful?

This is a wonderful introduction to evolution for youth l audiences. I am always looking for good evolution nonfiction for kids, and this is one of the best I’ve seen for its audience. What is so impressive about it is that it applies concepts of social justice to the conversation as well. Many books on evolution, particularly for youth, focus on Darwin—which is great, but focusing only on the theory’s origins makes it a more static topic, as well evolution has already occurred rather than is ongoing. This book explores modern implications, and it’s a real game changer for the genre. So thrilled to have received this as an eARC!

Was this review helpful?

Talking about climate change with kids can be difficult and risk having children feel like there’s nothing they can do to make a difference. “Evolution Under Pressure: How We Change Nature and How Nature Changes Us” is a great book to foster a better understanding of evolution, natural selection, and “not-so-natural selection” under the umbrella of climate change and its impacts on humans, plants, and animals. Well organised into sections, each one looking more in-depth at one particular animal and its evolutionary traits, like lizards with extra sticky pads to cling to concrete, along with humans and their impacts on the environment and those animals. The author also gives a primer in climate history and the development of human technology from becoming agrarian to developing steam technology, to living in primarily urban settings and making huge demands on resources to support our lifestyles. A high point of the book are the sections dealing with controversial topics like hunting and the use of agro-technology. With multiple perspectives, including Indigenous knowledge and actions, it is possible to look at difficult ethical debates with new eyes. Practical advice and easy-to-implement lifestyle changes empower kids to see how they can make a difference; this paired with young people around the world taking action, is reassuring. An excellent resource list gives budding ecologists some other directions to explore when they’ve finished reading. Yolanda Ridge’s book is a great way to engage kids in understanding their world and in empowering them to take action. 

- Teacher Tips -

* Follow-up to hunting section: Divide class into perspective groups and present related reasons/opinions

* Make a climate change timeline 

* Compile a list of practical changes from the book, have a class challenge to enact them

Was this review helpful?