In case you hadn’t yet heard, a total eclipse of the sun will be (weather permitting) observable along a path diagonally bisecting the continental United States this coming twenty-first day of August. As might be expected, there is more than just a little excitement about this amongst astronomers as well as general naturalists.
What is the purpose of studying an unfamiliar living creature? Is it to confirm what others have previously declared to be true about it, or is it to examine the creature in and of itself to discover what is true about it? And how does one interpret something that obviously once was alive but that resembles nothing known to presently exist – particularly if the idea of extinction does not fall within your understanding of how nature functions?
When I recently called up the Very Short Introductions section of the Oxford University Press website to check if any interesting natural history themed volumes were visible on the horizon, I found myself quoting that iconic, charismatic leader of the O.W.C.A., Major Francis Monogram, in exclaiming “Good googly moogly!”
What with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a fight for its very existence, the recent publication of Pamela Hill’s “Environmental Protection” in the Oxford University Press What Everyone Needs to Know® series seems particularly timely indeed.