Eat, Poop, Die: How Animals Make Our World (Hardcover)
A “fascinating” exploration (Elizabeth Kolbert) of how ecosystems are sculpted and sustained by animals eating, pooping, and dying—and how these fundamental functions could help save us from climate catastrophe.
If forests are the lungs of the planet, then animals migrating across oceans, streams, and mountains—eating, pooping, and dying along the way—are its heart and arteries, pumping nitrogen and phosphorus from deep-sea gorges up to mountain peaks, from the Arctic to the Caribbean. Without this conveyor belt of crucial, life-sustaining nutrients, the world would look very different.
The dynamics that shape our physical world—atmospheric chemistry, geothermal forces, plate tectonics, and erosion through wind and rain—have been explored for decades. But the effects on local ecosystems of less glamorous forces—rotting carcasses and deposited feces—as well as their impact on the global climate cycle, have been largely overlooked. The simple truth is that pooping and peeing are daily rituals for almost all animals, the ellipses of ecology that flow through life. We eat, we poop, and we die.
From the volcanoes of Iceland to the tropical waters of Hawaii, the great plains of the American heartland, and beyond, Eat, Poop, Die, “compulsively readable” (Shelby Van Pelt), takes readers on an exhilarating and enlightening global adventure, revealing the remarkable ways in which the most basic biological activities of animals make and remake the world—and how a deeper understanding of these cycles provides us with opportunities to undo the environmental damage humanity has wrought on the planet we call home.
About the Author
Joe Roman is a conservation biologist, marine ecologist, and editor ’n’ chef of eattheinvaders.org. Winner of the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award for Listed, Roman has written for the New York Times, Science, Slate, and other publications. He is a fellow and writer in residence at the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont.
"Joe Roman's argument that animals remake the world is a fascinating one. In our current age of extinction, it deserves the widest possible audience."—Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
"Absolutely fascinating—and you will read it with an entirely new appreciation and respect for the role that all the other animals on this earth play in making it work.”—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
“Absolutely fascinating. A compulsively readable scientific exploration of earth's ability to sustain life, but also a collection of entertaining anecdotes from Joe Roman’s career as a biologist who has spent a considerable amount of time studying… well, poop. Eat, Poop, Die helped me better understand our planet and gave me a fresh burst of motivation to advocate for it.”—Shelby Van Pelt, New York Times bestselling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures
“Joe Roman knows how to handle words. In this, his latest book, he ventures afield and spins a series of great and important stories about the many surprising threads that bind together the living world. And his writing just happens to be so good that he sweeps a reader along.”—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words and Alfie and Me
“With expert knowledge and wry humor, Roman returns animals to their rightful place at the center of the environment.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This playful pop science outing satisfies.”—Publishers Weekly
“Peculiar trivia (the size of an elephant's bowel movement is approximately five gallons) about the importance of excrement makes for perfect bathroom reading.”—Tony Miksanek, Booklist