Nature Wars (Paperback)
People Vs. Pests
Harvard University Press, 9780674605428, 210pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 1999
On our side, a vast arsenal of chemical pesticides. On their side? They don't have a side, the pests who must do nature's bidding. This is our war, and should we win it, ours would be a sorry planet. With disturbing news from the front, Nature Wars sounds the alarm against our dangerous tactics for controlling the pests that are an annoying but integral part of our world.
Thirty years after Silent Spring woke us to the devastation wrought by DDT, chemical pesticides are as pervasive as ever, deployed at a rate of 4 pounds a year for every man, woman, and child in this country. This ongoing commitment to pesticides, Mark Winston argues, reflects our sense of place in nature: embattled, beleaguered, driven to aggression. His book, as sensible as it is wise, seeks to change this mindset, to show how a more measured and discriminating approach to pests, one based on management rather than eradication, might serve us and the natural world far better than our ill-fated all-out war.
Winston backs up this approach with a full battery of case studies that take us from lawns and kitchens to farms and orchards, from insects and weeds to rats and coyotes. Here we see the complex political, biological, economic, social, and personal interactions that lie behind each pest management decision. Against this background Winston considers diverse instances of past pest management that reveal a consistent pattern of mistakes and problems--and lead to realistic, workable proposals for reducing pesticide use.
A compelling book about ethics and choices, Nature Wars shows us the difference between protecting ourselves from real pests and poisoning ourselves and the planet. It turns us from our war on nature to our task as stewards of the environment.