We live on an unexplored planet, ignorant of more than eighty percent of the species that share our world. In this fascinating and abundantly illustrated book, two eminent ecologists discuss the biological diversity of the Earth, showing how the natural systems that surround us play an essential role in protecting our basic life-support systems.Andrew Beattie and Paul Ehrlich tell us about the millions of species providing ecosystem services that maintain the quality of our air and water and the fertility of the soil, dispose of domestic, industrial, and agricultural waste, and protect crops from pests. The authors also describe how biological diversity opens the way for new medicines, pharmaceuticals, construction materials and designs, and manufactured goods. They point to innovative industries that harness species for the biological repair of damaged landscapes, biological mining, biological pest control, and biomonitoring of the environment. The organisms upon which these activities are foundedalthough often microscopic, obscure, or bizarreprovide natural capital that is worth infinitely more than anyone has previously guessed. The authors urge us to protect the biological wealth of our Earth and keep it from being destroyed by human activity.