One of the essential books of 2008, Paul and Anne Ehrlich's work is a follow-up to Paul's now three decades old The Population Bomb. T'would seem few truly ingested that tome as its warnings of the consequences of population growth went unheeded. Now, with the globe nearly ready to pop - too many people using too many resources - perhaps this book will get more attention. It's more than a clarion cry for change, however. The Ehrlichs walk you through a basic course in evolution and genetics before moving into cultural evolution and its devastating impact on ecosystems, worldwide. A survey of possible solutions leaves one with the sense that everything has to be tried at once to begin to make a difference. As is the case with many books on the overall subject of environmental collapse, it's hard to come away with the sense of anything but dread about the future - despite the authors' best efforts to present a menu of possibilities and hope. At least, with The Dominant Animal, you can beguile your friends at parties with your knowledge of impending doom, but don't expect anybody to buy you a drink.