Science under Siege: The Politicians' War on Nature and Truth

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those assuming that environmental battles are being waged only in picket lines in front of nuclear power plants and toxic landfills will be shocked by Wilkinson's disturbing chronicle of the real environmental trenches--the offices of the federal agencies created to protect the very landscapes that they instead are, according to him, sabotaging. In riveting detail, Wilkinson (Track of the Coyote, etc.) tells eight stories of "combat biologists" daring to question the environmental protocols of their superiors in agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. According to Wilkinson, officials in these agencies ask agency staffers to rewrite reports to make them more development-friendly--even if it means lying about statistics and methodology--and then to transfer or fire workers who refuse to sacrifice sound science to corporate dollars. David Ross, for example, the herpetologist who warned that development was killing spotted frogs in Utah, was transferred to study brine shrimp. "There may be five hundred species of wildlife found along the San Pedro," sums up Harold Vangilder, Sierra Vista mayor pro tem, in addressing the concerns raised by combat biologist Ben Lomeli that the river will soon dry up. "My response is, so what? What benefit do these animals have for humans?" Although several of the narratives initially seem unrelated, Wilkinson shows that as the clear-cutting of America's forestland goes, so goes the habitat of the fish and the grizzlies--and of humans as well. (Aug.)
Library Journal
When veteran environmental journalist Wilkinson undertook his study of the role of scientific whistleblowers in the natural resource agencies, he feared uncovering resentful and disgruntled misfits. Instead, he found individuals of courage and professional integrity like Jim Baca, the former outspoken director of the Bureau of Land Management, who writes the foreword to this text. Interviews with these public servants, their co-workers, and outside experts form the basis of the narrative. Each chapter tells the story of a particular conflict between an agency's bureaucrats backed by representatives of the extractive industries and their congressional supporters and a professional employee who refuses to practice bad science in order to push through environmentally dubious and possibly illegal projects. Wilkinson makes clear that by going public these concerned scientists inspire others and can effect change. This readable book both updates earlier studies and brings together a range of cases otherwise scattered throughout the literature. Its value for research, however, would have been increased if the author had appended a full list of his interviews and other sources. Recommended for any library with an interest in environmental affairs or government reform.--Joan S. Elbers, Port Charlotte, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555662103
  • Publisher: Big Earth Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Pages: 414
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.41 (d)

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