- File Size: 557 KB
- Print Length: 32 pages
- Publisher: The Atlantic Books (December 23, 2012)
- Publication Date: December 23, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00ASQIMAQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,540 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Battle at the End of Eden (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a book about modern conservation ideologies and the clash of human philosophies and politics. It talks about the work of scientists trying to undo the harm caused by introduced species and the battles they face both in terms of science as well as in politics. The author is a good writer and the book is very well written if read as a long magazine/newspaper article.
The author writes that 2000 bird species are thought to have been lost to human impact in the Pacific islands alone. It seemed a little too high considering there are about 10,000 extant species. I had to take a break from reading and look it up on the web just for the sake of curiosity. Birdlife tells me that the total number of species considered lost *in the world* since 1500 is about 151. However, I found a 1995 paper by David Steadman that says that there may have been more than 2000 species that went extinct in prehistoric Pacific islands (includes New Guinea and Hawaii). That is unfortunately misleading because it's in a paragraph talking about introduction of modern domesticated animals and rats. The book is about undoing the effects of introduced species in modern times, but talking about prehistory will lead to uneasy questions about how much should be undone on the islands and to what state should it be restored? Pre-human? Pre-Columbian?
There are often things that are introduced that can be far more difficult to remove (like mange that was introduced into the Rockies to kill off predators affecting the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction for instance). There was only a brief mention of such difficult-to-remove introduced species (plants and ants were mentioned) and that I believe is the real battle that decides the war, with the odds heavily against the effort to restore the islands to their pre-Columbian state. Do we declare victory with removal of introduced species? Visitors, residents (in the case of inhabited islands) or even scientists can transmit diseases that can have devastating consequences on fragile ecosystems such as remote islands. Are the islands that are restored going to be completely out of bounds of people? I feel there is a huge gap in the discussion with respect to both human policies as well as removal of all introduced species.
As much as I want to like this book and the work of the scientists featured, I can't help but think about it as an elaborate advertisement for the work of Island Conservation and their ideologies. I respect the work of Island Conservation but I would have preferred the book to take a more neutral stand and discuss more than justifying the killing of introduced mammals in selected islands.
I found the story of the movement to restore the "natural" (pre-human, pre-rat, pre-cat, etc.) environments of selected islands quite interesting. There have been a number of notable successes, but there is philosophical and political debate about the ethics of exterminating some species so that others may live. The claim is that we are entering a global mass extinction of species and that restoring some special island environments might actually make a long-term difference.
Martinez writes well and has a balanced perspective.
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