The Future of the Wild: Radical Conservation for a Crowded World
by Jonathan S. Adams
Beacon Press, January 2006
296 pages, $27.95 cloth, ISBN 0807085103
Available on Amazon.com
Come with me, dear reader, to a mythical world described by author Jonathan Adams as he sees it:
“Superhighways link colossal cities, suburbs stretch farther and farther into the countryside, industrial farmland goes on for miles, and a few patches of greenery and a national park or two break up the monotony. … The frontier is closed, the wilderness disappeared, and there is no going back. … Yet across North America and indeed around the world, conservation scientists, activists, and communities have begun crafting visions for conserving and restoring wild creatures and wild lands over larger areas than ever before.”
It would appear the author has rarely entered the interior of our nation and is unaware man occupies only 4.6 percent of the land area in the conterminous United States–which does not count Alaska, where far less land is utilized.
I know I must have read a worse book than this one, but perhaps advancing age has mercifully deprived me of any memory of it.
I always hesitate to review books of this type, but I also believe that knowing one’s philosophical opponents is an important part of our combat in the battle to protect society from those who would destroy us. Adams makes the task of reading onerous indeed. He could easily have made his illogical points in 70 pages instead of 233, but apparently he likes to hear himself talk and guesses others will likewise love reading his rambling words.
Attacks Liberty, Democracy
Adams hits the ground running in the opening chapter, explaining how arrogant man is to consider himself a superior creature. He criticizes Jeffersonian democracy and falsely claims “American love of individualism and Liberty has grown to the point that it constrains our ability to even talk about the common good.”
Adams clearly opposes farming and ranching, though he does not explain how, alternatively, we can get our food. Perhaps I slept through those pages, but nowhere in his index can the words “farms” or “agriculture” be found.
Adams apparently assumes we can and should import all our food from less-developed countries.
He says we must always see ourselves as part of the bigger picture, suppressing any sense of self, and he claims today’s conservatives are impoverishing their grandchildren “economically, ecologically, and otherwise to gratify their immediate need for wealth and power.”
Agrees with Radicals
Adams means we humans must play second fiddle to spotted owls who supposedly require 5,000 acres of old growth forest per pair and millions of acres in total if the bird species is to survive another century.
He approvingly quotes other radical conservationists displaying bold convictions against human life as we know it.
“The green mantle of Earth is now being ravaged and pillaged in a frenzy of exploitation by a mushrooming mass of humans and bulldozers,” Adams writes, in a frenzy of hysteria. “Perhaps even more shocking than the unprecedented wave of extinction is the cessation of significant evolution of new species of large plants and animals.” Such completely unsupportable claims are rampant throughout the book.
Adams spends a great deal of time describing his concept of “re-wilding” the planet. He outlines a detailed conservation philosophy, but in short the idea is to take back most of the land from humans and give it back to wild animals, whose ascension to dominance must be carefully shepherded. Along the way, he praises the most radical eco-terrorists and deifies the Nature Conservancy, an environmentalist group that I believe poses the greatest threat to individual property rights in the nation.
Adams bemoans the fact that one can now hike from Canada to Tierra Del Fuego without constant fear of “pumas.” He makes it clear that a life free of fear of being mauled or killed by wild animals is “impoverished.”
Adams blasts places in Florida and California that manage their landscapes with people in mind. He says “county commissions are completely pro-development, refusing to bite the hand that pads the property tax rolls.” The nerve of them to consider the needs of the people! He points out that not all species will tolerate cohabitation with humans … so, you guessed it, we have to get rid of the humans.
By and large the book is a poorly written, disjointed series of wilderness and habitat stories loaded with pompous philosophy. I would guess few buyers of the book will be able to navigate through the entire text, which is certainly one good thing about it.
I will admit there is one chapter worth reading, for those interested in the Florida Everglades. If one can ignore the author’s political opinions, Adams does accurately tell the history of the Everglades debacle in more detail than one can readily find elsewhere.
Many an objective reader of my review may come to the conclusion that my harsh treatment of the book stems from a lack of love or respect for animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have four dogs who share my bed, and four cats who sit on my desk while I work. I have 80 fish that I feed by hand, and I still cry over the scene of a bird, squirrel, duck, or raccoon that has become road kill.
Actually, I am convinced that Adams does not care as much about animals as I do, but he is more motivated by a dislike of mankind.
Dr. Jay Lehr ([email protected]) is science director for The Heartland Institute.