A Brief History of EarthPosted: May 27, 2022
A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters
Andrew H. Knoll
read by Tom Parks
HarperAudio, April 27, 2021
$17.96 for Audible members, more for nonmembers
purchased with an Audible credit
This book is 277 pages in the print edition, which translates to four hours and fifty-seven minutes in the audiobook version, rather short by audiobook standards, but long enough for Andrew Knoll to get his message across. The print and Kindle editions contain several charts, diagrams, and photos. Fortunately, purchasers of the audiobook version can download a PDF file with these images.
Knoll does indeed condense the history of planet earth into eight chapters, and he arranges them logically. His eight chapters are:
- Chemical Earth
- Physical Earth
- Biological Earth
- Oxygen Earth
- Animal Earth
- Green Earth
- Catastrophic Earth
- Human Earth
The author does a nice job of tracking the history of the planet from its earliest days shortly after the formation of the solar system. Although the first chapter is titled “Chemical Earth,” Knoll refers to chemistry and chemical elements throughout the book.
He offers some interesting material. For example, he describes how life had to first form without oxygen before oxygen breathing animals could evolve. He describes one of the great extinctions, when there was an unusual amount of volcanic activity on the planet. This, he says, created an environment that allowed the dinosaurs to evolve. Then, of course, that infamous meteor hit what is now the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, causing their extinction.
Knoll describes the geological evolution of the planet, and how the continents moved and shifted until we got the geography that we know today. The first seven chapters offer an interesting blend of history, chemistry, geology, and biology.
Then the author gets to the final chapter: “Human Earth.” He paints a grim picture of what humans have done to the planet, and how human beings are responsible for global warming and climate change. He paints an alarming picture about the impact that these changes will likely have on the planet and society. Although he ends on a hopeful note, it’s clear that humankind needs to take bold action to protect the planet and our environment.
Tom Parks does a superb job of reading the book. He allows Knoll’s voice to come through while creating an enjoyable listening experience.