A review of


How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us

The Wonder of Algae

by David Meyer

Botany expert Ruth Kassinger explores the almost infinite universe of algae, its history, its role in Earth’s development, its influence on the development of the human brain and algae’s possible utility as a tool to mitigate climate change.

In this entertaining popular-science overview, botany expert Ruth Kassinger details how scientists and entrepreneurs explore algae as an ingredient in alternative fuels, a basis for carbon-neutral plastic, and a tool for clearing pollution from lakes and rivers. Algae, she explains, created half the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, acted as regulators of the planet’s temperature, served as the foundation of the oceans’ food chain and – by evolving into plants – pioneered life on land. Kassinger details these photosynthesizing organisms – which range from tiny unicellular creatures in pond scum to multicellular seaweed over 150 feet tall – and all their fascinating, multi-use applications.


At the beginning of life on Earth, algae created much of the oxygen in the oceans and on land, and for billions of years served as a direct or indirect food source for all marine organisms.

Comment on this review

More on this topic

Related Channels