Activists’ Excesses Called to Account

Published January 1, 2009

Green Gone Wild: Elevating Nature Above Human Rights
by David Stirling
Merrill Press, 2008
264 pages, $20.00, ISBN 978-0936783536

After a few decades in public service with the State of California, David Stirling became vice president of the Pacific Legal Foundation in 1999. His new book, Green Gone Wild, is the culmination of all that has frustrated him about the command-and-control nature of misguided contemporary environmental regulations.

First, Stirling tells how modern environmentalism became an extremist, highly politicized movement. He shows the movement is based not on science, as it wants the world to believe, but on an outdated, counterproductive, and anti-people approach to the natural world.

He then takes the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the exclusionists’ Holy Grail of environmental law, describes its origins, and shows how it is administered without regard to cost—billions of dollars in taxes and lost private land use while accomplishing very little to aid species or justify its cost.

Stirling tells compelling stories of how ESA, enforced by overreaching federal bureaucrats with a command-and-control approach, has been responsible for the loss of human lives, destruction of livelihoods and businesses, and trampling of property owners’ reasonable use of their land. Stirling asks and later answers the question, “What kind of ethos could motivate federal officials to elevate the concerns of mice and rats over those of human beings in their darkest hour of need?”

He also recounts the complete, tragic story of death and devastation wrought by malaria after it had been conquered by what we now know to be the innocuous pesticide DDT, which was banned throughout the world in response to false scare stories.

This book is a call for common sense and balance in crafting and enforcing laws, policies, and practices governing the relationship between the human species and the plant and wildlife world.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director for The Heartland Institute.