Requiem for Nature

John Terborgh

Published by Island Press
ISBN 10: 1559635878 / ISBN 13: 9781559635875
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Synopsis: Ecologist John Terborgh has been witness to the relentless onslaught of civilization in some of the remotest areas of the planet. Here he raises urgent questions: is enough being done to protect nature? Are current conservation efforts succeeding? Terborgh makes the case that nature can be saved - but that the greatest challenges are social, economic and political rather than scientific.

Review: How do we save the tropical rainforests of the world, answering the clarion call of so many environmental groups? For John Terborgh, a tropical biologist, the answer is dark and sobering: despite our best intentions, we may not be able to, for we lack both a coherent plan and, starkly put, the political will to do so. Sustainable development, "the mantra of the conservation movement," is of small help, Terborgh believes, because the realities of economic development are such that where the needs of humans are weighed against the needs of the natural world, nature always loses. Ecotourism, heralded as a model of economic possibility, is not much better because the novelty of seeing giant trees soon wears off and the chances of seeing wildlife are few ("restricted visibility means that most animals are not detected until the visitor is already well within the animal's flight distance, the distance at which a creature flees in the presence of a human"). If we're to save old-growth forests, Terborgh suggests, we'll have to suspend all economic activity in them, ending logging, prospecting, and recreation; only if we leave them alone do they have much of a chance. It's a grim view, and one that is unlikely to take much sway, no matter how correct it might be. Terborgh notes as much himself in his well-argued polemic, writing, "Whether we like it or not, tropical forests are worth more dead than alive. Nothing can save them short of a sea change in public opinion that registers not only in politicians' statements but also in their actions. Saving biodiversity will have to become a global obsession, not merely a pastime." --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Requiem for Nature
Publisher: Island Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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