- Series: For the Wild Things
- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Ravens Eye Press LLC (May 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0981658474
- ISBN-13: 978-0981658476
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife (For the Wild Things) Paperback – May 1, 2011
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The book's Foreword was penned by the venerated 19th century English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill, who wrote presciently and wisely in 1848 that: "Nor is there much satisfaction in contemplating the world with nothing left to the spontaneous activity of nature; with every rood of land brought into cultivation, which is capable of growing food for human beings; every flowery waste or natural pasture plowed up, all quadrupeds or birds which are not domesticated for man's use exterminated as his rivals for food..."
This Foreword shows that there is a long tradition of dissidents and freethinkers pondering limits to growth and biospheric usurpation, as well as the importance of the other species with which we share the Earth. Foreman indeed uses "earthling" to refer to all those creatures great and small that grace the Earth with their lives, not just those who walk on two feet and sport opposable thumbs.
With graphs and text, Foreman reviews the fundamentals of population growth and carrying capacity. While it took humanity tens of thousands of years to reach its first billion in about 1800, it has only taken another two centuries to add six billion more. The USA alone irrupted from 4 million in 1790 to more than 310 million at present, and continues to add about 3 million a year, on the way to 440 million by 2050, and somewhere between half a billion and a billion by 2100, according to the Census Bureau.
The Earth is adding another 80 million people a year, on the way to 9 billion or more by 2050, and 10 billion or more by 2100, barring a demographic/economic/environmental collapse - which can certainly not be ruled out. Yet it is staggering just how apathetic and ignorant most people are about overpopulation. If acknowledged at all, it's considered passé or just background noise; the newest gadgets from Apple, the latest Gaga video, the pathetic posturing between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the volatile stock market, and the chores of daily survival attract a thousand times more attention than this crucial long-term issue.
Suffused with Forman's engaging, easygoing, and eccentric style, at turns humorous, but deadly serious throughout, Man Swarm lays out in grizzly detail how ever-increasing numbers of our species spell doom for other life forms. These poor creatures, or wildeors as Foreman charmingly dubs them (from the Old English) have the misfortune of being stuck on the one known life-bearing planet with Homo sapiens - that would be us humans - the supremely arrogant yet ignorant simian whose cleverness, greed, and short-sightedness long ago outran our collective wisdom and self-restraint. Yet as Foreman emphasizes time and again, it doesn't have to be this way. "The better angels of our nature" - our ancient wisdom and self-restraint - can prevail.
In a chapter entitled "How the Man Swarm Eats Earth," Foreman identifies the Seven Ecological Wounds of the human assault on the "wildworld": Overkill; Scalping and Taming Wilderness; Fragmentation of Wildlife Neighborhoods; Upsetting and Weakening Ecological and Evolutionary Processes; Spread of Exotic Species and Diseases; Biocide Poisoning of Land, Air, Water, and Wildlife; and Global "Weirding" or Climate Change and Ocean Acidification. He elaborates on each of these and shows their relationship to the famous I=PAT equation first proposed four decades ago by biologist Paul Ehrlich and physicist John Holdren.
Foreman then pillories those ideologues who are so blinded by their own faiths (in the free market, in limitless human ingenuity, in the evils of capitalism, etc.) that they fail to perceive - or worse, actively deny - the unbearable load a mounting human population places atop wild nature. Not surprisingly, many such deniers denounce folks like Foreman who attempt to raise concern about overpopulation as doom-and-gloomers and misanthropes. They are like the eternal optimist Pangloss in Voltaire's satire Candide.
Finally, Foreman proposes a variety of steps that we as Americans can take, individually and collectively, to slay the overpopulation juggernaut before it slays our fellow earthlings, and ultimately, ourselves. This diverse list ranges from reducing unsustainable levels of immigration to backing women's education and equality worldwide.
This book deserves to be read by all who really care about wildlife and sustainability.
Who answers the tough questions about what's happening in the Sudan today? War. Famine. It all leads back to the very question no leader seems to have an answer for: What does massive overpopulation have to do with the problems every country faces today?
Man Swarm asks the hard questions which need answering. And fast. The Earth is not infinite. Yet population is not even a talking point in mainstream environmental groups. Technology will not save us. Yet we produce more junk every day at the expense of lives somewhere on Earth. And, if anyone cares about other forms of life on Earth, wilderness and wildlife are now at the end of their rope. Something must give. Man Swarm says it's us. And looking at the simple facts, I agree.
Sadly, its circulation will be small. Unfortunately, its primary intended audience (e.g. world leaders who have the power to put policies in place to help alleviate planetary stresses) are largely deaf to taking the decisive, extensive, cumulative actions which will stop the impending pace of planetary plunder. A decendent of Fairfield Osborn's fateful book, "Our Plundered Planet", this book will enlighten and frighten any thoughtful reader.
Will the wake up prose of this and so many other qualified books of this genre be heeded? Not likely to the extent needed.