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Noahs Choice

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In the Sans Bois Mountains of Oklahoma, a lustrous orange and mahogany beetle drags a tiny carcass across a patch of ground shaken by bulldozers clearing the way for a new highway that threatens the beetle's existence. Workers at a housing development near Austin, Texas, cut a swath through a tangle of young oaks and sumacs, once home to a colony of rare, olive-winged birds. On a sand dune bordering a shopping center in Albany, New York, a security guard patrols a chain-link fence, keeping curious shoppers out of...
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Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A. 1995 Hardcover New 0679420029. FLAWLESS COPY, BRAND NEW, PRISTINE, NEVER OPENED-302 pages.

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Overview

In the Sans Bois Mountains of Oklahoma, a lustrous orange and mahogany beetle drags a tiny carcass across a patch of ground shaken by bulldozers clearing the way for a new highway that threatens the beetle's existence. Workers at a housing development near Austin, Texas, cut a swath through a tangle of young oaks and sumacs, once home to a colony of rare, olive-winged birds. On a sand dune bordering a shopping center in Albany, New York, a security guard patrols a chain-link fence, keeping curious shoppers out of an area reserved for several hundred little blue butterflies. These are scenes emblematic of America's fractious and expensive battle to save its natural heritage. To report on this battle, Charles C. Mann and Mark L. Plummer traveled throughout the United States; they discovered a nation struggling to balance the protection of its troubled ecosystems with the ordinary needs of its human inhabitants - a nation that is increasingly racked by conflict and confusion over endangered species and the law intended to protect them, the Endangered Species Act. Noah's Choice illuminates the essential questions that now confront environmentalists, developers, ecologists, and, indeed, all Americans. Why do some species face extinction, and why should we care? How serious is the problem, and how much will fixing it cost? Can we save all of nature and still have all the material things we want? And if we cannot, how should we choose which species to bring aboard our ark - and which to leave behind? Gracefully written, thoroughly researched, deeply felt, and unfailingly honest, Noah's Choice provides a haven from the storm of polemic that surrounds this issue. The authors suggest new principles for striking a desperately important balance between the needs of human beings and the rest of the world, and provide an invaluable blueprint to guide us in discharging the awesome responsibility of choosing among species.

Saving all endangered species is beyond our means. Which ones should we try to save? And how should we try to save them? In Noah's Choice Mann and Plummer suggest new, clear-eyed, deeply felt principles that can guide us in discharging the awesome responsibility of choosing among species.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Oklahoma, a highway to improve access to a hospital that serves poor people was delayed for more than four years to protect a beetle. In enforcing the Endangered Species Act, do we put insects above human needs? Mann and Plummer, coauthors of The Aspirin Wars, argue that trying to save every species is unethical and impractical, that we have to make choices. They cite case histories of ecological conflict: the snail darter in Tennessee, the Karner Blue butterfly in New York and Wisconsin, a bird habitat threatened by home-building in Texas. When the act passed in 1973, few people-least of all, Congress, the authors say-understood its ramifications, especially the cost. The act is up for renewal this year. Mann and Plummer offer suggestions for making it more practical in this provocative, timely and reasonable study. (Feb.)
Library Journal
A beetle puts a stranglehold on the construction of a highway that would have provided Native Americans reasonable access to a hospital; a minnow almost stops a dam from being built. Mann and Plummer, who also collaborated on The Aspirin Wars (LJ 10/1/91), highlight these and other examples in their discussion of the difficult choices that must be made with increasing frequency between human needs and the preservation of biodiversity. The writing is clear and entertaining, and the authors' key argument-that the Endangered Species Act doesn't allow for enough flexibility based on values-is compelling, cogent, and highly controversial. Included are excellent summaries of the concepts of island biogeography and species, the history of the Endangered Species Act, and current thinking on the rate of extinction. Highly recommended. [Other recent books on the excesses of environmentalism include Greg Easterbrook's A Moment on the Earth (LJ 2/1/95) and Charles T. Rubin's The Green Crusade (LJ 2/15/94).-Ed.]-Lynn C. Badger, Univ. of Florida Lib., Gainesville
Bonnie Smothers
This year the Endangered Species Act is up for congressional renewal. As it stands, the act has fallen short of its noble purpose, for the endangered species list has grown steadily in the years since the act was passed in 1973. The Lord's command to Noah was quite clear; there were no choices to be made regarding what should be saved. Noah had a blueprint. The authors of this book stress that saving every species is impossible, given the steady encroachment of modern life on nature, but that is what the Endangered Species Act commands. Taking the reader through compelling case studies of ecological conflict--a beetle in Oklahoma threatened by a highway to a hospital, a bird endangered by the spread of new homes in Texas--the authors conclude that to save biodiversity we cannot avoid making tough choices: "When we pick nature, we must recognize the human losses; when we choose to satisfy human desires, we should shut the door in the ark with as much wisdom and compassion as possible." Perhaps this book will fuel public debate on an issue of vital interest to us all.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679420026
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/14/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 1.17 (d)

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