A fresh perspective on
humanity’s relationship with nature

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The Big Ratchet

DeFries provides a sweeping history of humanity’s journey from an ordinary mammal to a world-dominating species.

The long lens on humanity’s journey portrays how people devised ways to feed civilization in a never-ending cycling of solutions and new problems. Rather than impending catastrophe, the “big picture” illustrates our species adaptability and ingenuity.

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Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University. She is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and many other academic awards, as well as author of over a 100 scientific papers related to how people are manipulating the planet and its consequences for humanity.

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