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Description - Nature Wars by Mark L. Winston

The aim of this book is to sound the alarm against dangerous tactics for controlling the pests that are an annoying but integral part of our world. Over 30 years after the devastation wrought by DDT, chemical pesticides are as pervasive as ever. The author argues that this ongoing commitment to pesticides reflects our sense of place in nature: embattled, beleaguered and driven to aggression. Here he seeks to show how a more measured and discriminating approach to pests, one based on management rather than obliteration, might serve us and the natural world much better. Case studies are used and take the reader from lawns and kitchens to farms and orchards, from insects and weeds to rats and coyotes. These show the complex political, biological, economic, social and personal interactions that lie behind each pest management decision. The diverse instances of pest management are considered, and reveal a consistent pattern of mistakes and problems. The author uses these to lead to a realistic, workable proposal for reducing pesticide use.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674605428
ISBN-10: 067460542X
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 11mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 2-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Nature Wars by Mark L. Winston

Book Reviews - Nature Wars by Mark L. Winston

UK Kirkus Review » Drawing on various North American case histories, Mark Winston, a professor of biological sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada, sketches out the battle lines between insects and humans and looks at our management (and mostly mismanagement) of pests through overuse of pesticides. This book is perhaps the worthiest of all successors to Carson's Silent Spring: first, because it is not a polemic against all pesticide use but offers a balanced assessment. Second, because it is so simply yet lyrically and authoritatively written. The book argues that we have yet to come to grips with our ecological relationship with insects - something Carson first alerted us to, but which still has a long way to come to fruition, in terms of government and industrial policies as well as personal attitudes toward insects. Short-listed for the 1998 BP Natural World Prize. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Call it a long shot, a miracle even, but Winston (The Biology of the Honey Bee, not reviewed) manages to shape the art and science of pest management into a fascinating subject. Pests eat our homes and crops and clothes, they transmit disease, they plague our skin, hair, and digestive tracts. They have bugged us from day one: The ancient Syrians exorcised scorpions from Antioch, Sumerians deployed elemental sulphur to control mites, and the Romans drained swamps to oust mosquitoes and their ilk. Today chemicals - pesticides, herbicides, fungicides - rule in humankind's "modern war against nature," in which insects are a prime enemy. And, Winston asserts, "it is time to reconsider the terms of engagement." Why? Because chemicals attack a pest's nervous system, which (unfortunately) resembles our own rather closely. The consequences: The author cites one million cases, worldwide, of human pesticide poisoning annually (and 20,000 fatalities among those). Moreover, pest resistance to chemicals is growing even as the chemicals continue to decimate natural predator populations essential to the earth's balance. Winston suggests various remedies for our faulty attitudes and strategies. He challenges and critiques our assumptions about pests, too: Does that single cockroach scuttling around the kitchen really demand an application of Malathion, or does our paranoia deserve some doctoring? As alternatives to dangerous chemical weapons, he proposes biologically based programs that consider (and benignly maneuver) the facts of insect ecology and behavior: sterile insect release, pheromone spraying, and genetic engineering. Winston recommends that chemical pesticides can be used, but only as a last resort; that pest management should indeed manage - but not eradicate - pests; and that perhaps only the most damaging pests should be managed at all. Like a new Rachel Carson for the new millennium, Winston delivers a nontoxic dose of much-needed common sense. (Kirkus Reviews)


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