1. Plants: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Plants form a fundamental element of the biosphere, and the evolution of plants has directly affected the evolution of animal life and the evolution of the Earth’s climate. Plants have also become essential to humans not only in the form of cereal crops, fruit, and vegetables, but in their many other uses in wood and paper, and in providing medicines. Their aesthetic importance too in our parks and gardens as well as in wildflower meadows and great forests should not be underestimated.
In this Very Short Introduction Timothy Walker, Director of the Botanical Gardens in Oxford, provides a concise account of the nature of plants, their variety, their evolution, and their importance and uses, stressing the need and efforts for their conservation for future generations.
2. Plate Tectonics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
The 1960s revealed a new and revolutionary idea in geological thought: that the continents drift with respect to one another. After having been dismissed for decades as absurd, the concept gradually became part of geology’s basic principles. We now know that the Earth’s crust and upper mantle consist of a small number of rigid plates that move, and there are significant boundaries between pairs of plates, usually known as earthquake belts.
Plate tectonics now explains much of the structure and phenomena we see today: how oceans form, widen, and disappear; why earthquakes and volcanoes are found in distinct zones which follow plate boundaries; how the great mountain ranges of the world were built. The impact of plate tectonics is studied closely as these processes continue: the Himalaya continues to grow, the Atlantic is widening, and new oceans are forming. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Molnar provides a succinct and authoritative account of the nature and mechanisms of plate tectonics and its impact on our understanding of Earth.