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How the Government Got in Your Backyard: Superweeds, Frankenfoods, Lawn Wars, and the (Nonpartisan) Truth About Environmental Policies Hardcover – February 9, 2011


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How the Government Got in Your Backyard: Superweeds, Frankenfoods, Lawn Wars, and the (Nonpartisan) Truth About Environmental Policies + The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line + The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; 1 edition (February 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604690011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604690019
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gillman and Heberlig take a nonpartisan approach to existing environmental laws and consider how each political sphere would like them changed. They use an interesting conceit, highlighting a topic, providing background, then relating how it is received by the Right and the Left. This clarifies dense material, making for an accessible title that also explains why it is so difficult to alter existing laws. Members of Congress, they write, would be perfectly happy if scientists came before them and all agreed that ‘this pesticide is safe, allow it’ or ‘this pesticide is unsafe, ban it.’ But anticipating that level of consensus from the scientific community makes Waiting for Godot look like an afternoon’s diversion. Therefore, politicians are forced to take sides on issues they know little about, resulting in frustration all around. Gillman and Heberlig also wade into private-property rights and home-owner associations and pose the question of just what a good yard means. In all, their discussion illuminates environmental confusion on a national scale and offers help in making the far-ranging debate easier to understand. --Colleen Mondor

Review

“This book condenses the facts in an accessible manner and poses both sides of the debate without preaching either way.”

(Amy Stewart East Oregonian)

“Illuminates environmental confusion on a national scale and offers help in making the far-ranging debate easier to understand.”
(Booklist)

"If government issues relating to produce draw your attention, this book may help broaden your thinking." 

(The Packer)

"Freakonomics for the gardening set---a must-read for anyone concerned with making our planet a safer place to live.”

(SuchABookNerd.com)

"Gillman and Heberlig are a horticulturist and a political scientist respectively, and their unique angles allow them to open these issues to the regular folks like me."

(Reference and Research Book News)

“A lively read for a broad audience, from political activists and policymakers to gardeners and anyone who simply wants to know more about these important issues.”

More About the Author

An Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Jeff was raised in South Eastern Pennsylvania, and went to Franklin and Marshall College. He then moved South to Georgia where he received a masters degree in Entomology and a Ph.D. in Horticulture. He currently resides in St. Paul Minnesota. Besides teaching and research activities, Jeff runs a nine acre nursery at UMN.

Customer Reviews

The problem is that this book gives equal weight to issues that are not at all equal.
Kristine Lofgren
The authors conclusions seem to be, we shouldn't worry, because Big Business and Big Government will take care of us - Not likely, and as we all know, not true.
Sheri Fogarty
I didn't agree with a lot of it and about halfway through the book, I ended up skipping some of the proposals and simply reading the introductory discussions.
booksy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tom B. VINE VOICE on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An old saying goes, if you try to walk the middle of the road the only thing you get is hit by a car.

That can be true of this book, evidenced by the reviews. It seems highly politically motivated people view this book through their prism of ideology, and that is a shame. What we have here is a concise, well-written tome covering various issues from fertilizers, to global warming, pollution, and more.

It does so by first laying out the problem, looking at it from a scientific side, then attempts to, through economic and political arguments, discuss both sides of the issue.

I especially appreciated the fertilizer and pesticide chapters. As a small Christmas Tree grower I was interested in the science and politics behind using or not using these products, they environmental impacts as well as the economic impacts for and against using many of these products. I found their arguments well thought out, fair, and concise.

I think many on the left may not like many of the arguments made in the book. But at least this book shows both arguments, unlike other media sources such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth".

As with anything you read on hot topics, do not use this book as the be all end off. If you are from the left or the right don't base all your arguments from this.

This book is, however, a good starting point to begin your readings. Question everything. Question with boldness. This book will get you asking the tough questions.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Authors Gillman and Heberling begin by observing that it's hard to have a debate on environmental issues that isn't confounded by the debaters' political opinions. Indeed, for many people, how you feel about (say) global warming is more an issue of how you feel about Al Gore than what you know about the actual science and policy implications. This book is an attempt to cut thorugh the politics and lay out the issues behind the debates with (hopefully) a minimum of argumentum ad hominem.

Each chapter takes a particular issue, like global warming, overuse of fertilizer, or air quality, and begins by attempting to lay out the science, the economic issues, and the how policies may affect individual liberties, and in that I think they do a very good job. This is followed by a choice of policies that may be pursued for each issue, beginning (usually) with "Do nothing" and followed by various degrees of intervention. Each alternative is given what they term a "right wing" rating and a "left wing" rating, with discussion, and finally, their measured proposals. So how successful are they at reaching politics-free solutions?

Truthfully, it's just about impossible to make policy proposals that are completely independent of any political philosophy. How you feel about individual versus collective rights is going to strongly influence how you rank various solutions. One person's reasonable intervention is going to be another's abuse of power. The authors come across as sharing a basically libertarian philosophy, and so are inclined to err on the side of personal liberty, though not so much so that they'll deny what they see as a clear and present danger. If they do have one strong bias, it's in favor of science over emotion.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How the Government got in Your Backyard / 978-1-60469-001-9

I read a lot of books on health, food, and government policy, so I was really excited to get this book, but I ended up being very disappointed.

Firstly, the tone is very unpleasant. The book waffles between a very snide 'superior' tone - there's a whole section on how "If you like your opinions and don't think that appreciating the other side of an argument is important, then we encourage you to put this book down right now, because it wasn't written for you," and it just comes off as very self-congratulatory - and a very dry, unfocused 'scholarly' tone, with the book skimping all over the place on specific issues, and comes across as very disorganized.

Secondly, the 'facts' contained herein are incredibly superficial, with almost zero documentation. Weasel words are employed frequently, names and studies are never cited, and there are zero footnotes to back up the authors claims. One example early on that bugged me immensely was this: "A dairy in California was brought to the attention of the USDA in 2005 for violating organic standards... A supplier of organic milk to major retailers line Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's received a letter from the USDA in 2007 telling it to clean up its act or risk losing certification..." Much of the book reads this way, and it's very frustrating! "A dairy" - which one? "A supplier" - where? When "studies" are said to show something, we never hear where the study was conducted, or who conducted it. This is very important information, and leaving it out means that we just have to take the authors' words for everything.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The authors of this book have created a unique look at various scientific topics that are either prominent in the news currently, or are hot buttons for various people. Chapters include global climate change, invasive plant species, organic foods, pesticide use and a number of others. What makes the book unique is the way in which the authors have arranged the chapters and the information provided.

They begin by giving a short overview of the subject in its totality and move on to separating the subject into the true, unbiased science on the subject followed by the political aspects of the issue. Following that, they provide various ways to proceed....making the laws stricter, loosening them or just leaving things as they are.

As most people have already made a decision on where they stand on an issue, it is likely they will be irritated to see opposing opinions. In addition, as the authors point out nicely in the closing chapter, most people decide an issue based on political leanings, rather than on the actual science and are not inclined to learn the real science behind and issue.

The book should make you think about your positions on various topics, if only slightly. It should also make you realize just how much of what is happening in this country with scientific issues is political rather than fact.

If you have an open mind, you will find the book interesting and enlightening. If, however, you tend to have your mind made up then this book will probably just irritate you. The book would have earned five stars, but the somewhat dry nature of the writing reduced it to 4 stars. In addition to making a wonderful read for the public, it would also make a goof textbook for high school and college students.
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