Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species

Front Cover
Knopf, 1995 - Science - 302 pages
In the Sans Bois Mountains of Oklahoma, a lustrous orange and mahogany beetle drags a tiny carcass across a patch of ground shaken by bulldozers clearing the way for a new highway that threatens the beetle's existence. Workers at a housing development near Austin, Texas, cut a swath through a tangle of young oaks and sumacs, once home to a colony of rare, olive-winged birds. On a sand dune bordering a shopping center in Albany, New York, a security guard patrols a chain-link fence, keeping curious shoppers out of an area reserved for several hundred little blue butterflies. These are scenes emblematic of America's fractious and expensive battle to save its natural heritage. To report on this battle, Charles C. Mann and Mark L. Plummer traveled throughout the United States; they discovered a nation struggling to balance the protection of its troubled ecosystems with the ordinary needs of its human inhabitants - a nation that is increasingly racked by conflict and confusion over endangered species and the law intended to protect them, the Endangered Species Act. Noah's Choice illuminates the essential questions that now confront environmentalists, developers, ecologists, and, indeed, all Americans. Why do some species face extinction, and why should we care? How serious is the problem, and how much will fixing it cost? Can we save all of nature and still have all the material things we want? And if we cannot, how should we choose which species to bring aboard our ark - and which to leave behind? Gracefully written, thoroughly researched, deeply felt, and unfailingly honest, Noah's Choice provides a haven from the storm of polemic that surrounds this issue. The authors suggest newprinciples for striking a desperately important balance between the needs of human beings and the rest of the world, and provide an invaluable blueprint to guide us in discharging the awesome responsibility of choosing among species.

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NOAH'S CHOICE: The Future of Endangered Species

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Must reading for anyone concerned about biodiversity and the fate of the hotly debated Endangered Species Act, which is up for congressional renewal in 1995. Mann and Plummer (co-authors of The ... Read full review

Noah's choice: the future of endangered species

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A beetle puts a stranglehold on the construction of a highway that would have provided Native Americans reasonable access to a hospital; a minnow almost stops a dam from being built. Mann and Plummer ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired. He has also written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, the television network HBO, and the television series Law and Order. He has received writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. He has written or co-written several books including The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics, The Aspirin Wars: Money, Medicine, and 100 Years of Rampant Competition, Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species, At Large: The Strange Case of the Internet's Biggest Invasion, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created which made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. His book, 1491, won the National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year.

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