Trevor Palmer. Perilous Planet Earth: Catastrophes and Catastrophism Through the Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Hardcover, 522 pp .
Anyone who has followed the fate of the maverick researcher and writer Velikovsky (“Worlds in Collision” etc.) at the hands of the academic establishment will know that catastrophism has not been looked upon kindly in bygone decades. Here is a book written by a respected scientist and published by a respected university press, which tells us that major catastrophes have not only shaped evolution on this planet but also been instrumental in the destiny of human civilization.
Sticking closely to the available scientific data, Palmer does not, as was Velikovsky’s tendency, indulge in wild speculations, and whenever he extrapolates from hard facts, he tells the reader so. The book is organized into two parts. The first part presents a detailed review of the changing fortunes of the notion of catastrophism versus gradualism, showing how after a long reign of evolutionary gradualism, neocastrophism emerged in the 1980s.
In the second part of his study, which spans some 100 pages, Palmer focuses on mass extinctions and their possible causes. He is thorough and objective in his portrayal and, to his credit, even dares enter treacherous quicksand by discussing the leading theories about the lost civilization of Atlantis. He concludes that the mystery of Atlantis remains unsolved. Whatever triggered previous global catastrophes, they can happen again. Palmer feels that science must understand those past events in order to prepare, if we can, for future happenings of a similar kind.
This highly readable, well-written book, which is destined to become a classic, is especially valuable, because it provides hundreds of source references on nearly 130 pages.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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