Bright, a researcher at the World watch Institute and editor of World Watch, has monitored the social, economic, and...


LIFE OUT OF BOUNDS: Bioinvasion in a Borderless World

Bright, a researcher at the World watch Institute and editor of World Watch, has monitored the social, economic, and cultural implications of the escalation of bioinvasion and studied ways to contain it. Natural barriers such as mountain ridges and ocean currents create a matrix of ecosystems allowing isolated species to thrive without intrusion of alien, harmful species. But through human meddling and industrial mishaps, these barriers have lost their ecological purpose. The spread of alien, ""exotic"" organisms is now a reality. Western Atlantic jellyfish, for example, are pumped out of a ship's ballast into the Black Sea, where local fisheries are ruined. Increased travel and international commerce have resulted in the rapid spread of exotic species and pathogens in fields, forests, water, and islands, endangering traditional human lifestyles. If bioinvaders damage organisms unique to an area, such as the giant tortoises of the Gal‡pagos or the colorful fruit flies of Hawaii, there is no way to restore them. In addition, humans are recipients of known and unknown diseases from bioinvaders. The Asian tiger mosquito, which has already spread throughout the world, has introduced 18 viral pathogens, including yellow and dengue fevers and several forms of encephalitis. ""Biological pollution"" is not only unethical, it is also destructive to the global economy. The US loses an estimated $4 billion a year from damage caused by forest pests alone. A greater worry is that biological pollution, although as dangerous as deforestation or ozone depletion, has not received comparable recognition, except when incidents such as the zebra mussel invasion of the Great Lakes become newsworthy. Bright's comprehensive solution includes legal, political, ecological, and personal measures. Tools already exist to fight biological pollution, but these are insufficient. There is a need for ""ecological literacy"" and international codes of conduct. An eye-opener written with informed urgency and a clear-headed analysis of the catastrophic consequences of complacency.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998


Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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