Terra, by Michael Novacek

Our 100-million-year-old ecosystem, and the threats that now put it at risk.

Publisher:Henry Holt; Illustrated edition (26 November 2008)
Characteristics:478 pages; 21 cm.
Source:Street Library.

Terra takes the reader through Earth’s geographic history from when life began until modern times, and the problems now faced.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Terra, by Michael Novacek, a palaeontologist and explorer who has travelled to some of the most remote and fascinating places on Earth. I picked up this book because I was curious about Earth’s long, varied, and sometimes violent history.

Global Warming Warning

But this book is more than just a travelogue. It’s also a wake-up call for the urgent need to protect our planet from the devastating effects of global warming, or climate change as it’s now preferred to be called, as the weather often isn’t warm during “global warming” protests. Earth has been through much worse than the recent climate change. Not only has the climate always been changing, but massive meteors have wreaked havoc. And CO2 has been much higher in the past.

And although he’s concerned with global warming, like many other concerned intellectuals, he has no interest in curbing his travel. Novacek loves travelling to China, which he visited over twenty times. Of course, he will justify it by saying it’s in the name of study, but anyone really concerned about global warming would try to limit their carbon footprint by eliminating discretionary needs. Instead, they expect the poor to go without heating. Very unfair, I think.

Terra, by Michael Novacek
Terra, by Michael Novacek

Terra Wonders

Novacek writes with passion and humour, blending personal anecdotes with scientific facts and insights. He shows how the past can inform the present and the future, and how our actions have consequences for the biodiversity and stability of our world. He also offers some hope and optimism, highlighting the efforts of conservationists, educators, and activists who are working to preserve and restore the natural wonders of Terra.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was informative, entertaining, and inspiring. Novacek is not only a brilliant scientist, but also a great storyteller. He made me feel like I was travelling with him, seeing the beauty and diversity of life on Earth, and witnessing the threats and challenges that we face as a global community. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves nature and science. It will make you think and maybe somewhat melancholy about our planet.


Terra is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it. It’s a reminder of how precious and fragile our home is, and how much we need to care for it. As Novacek says in his conclusion, “We are all explorers of Terra, and we all have a stake in its future.”

Featured Image: Photo by Marcus Lange

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