THE DYING OF THE TREES: The Pandemic in America's Forests by Charles E. Little
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THE DYING OF THE TREES: The Pandemic in America's Forests

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Decline. Dieback. Pandemic. Call it what you will, things are rotten in the American forest--namely, the trees--cautions this enthralling, terrifying study of our sylvan predicament. ""In the dim light of the summer forest, I felt a sense of uneasiness,"" notes Little (Hope for the Land, 1992). It gets much worse. From the East Coast to the West Coast (and Europe and everywhere), trees are dying wholesale. The author strongly suggests that behind each wooded ill lies the hand of humankind: Acid rain levels red spruce in the Northeast; fire suppression along Colorado's Front Range encourages the spruce budworm to do its nasty work; the introduction, through human accident, of the gypsy moth leads to the pleasures of DDT as an antidote; clear-cutting has catastrophic, rippling consequences, with two standing trees dying for every one cut due to blowdown and disease; internal combustion engines permanently remove sugar maples from the woods (not to mention maple syrup from the breakfast table). Little interviews plant pathologists and entomologists in each case, plumbing for the causes behind the effects. Comparing their findings with politicized, compromised, state-sponsored reports, he encounters one instance after another of sidestepping, obfuscation, and downright misrepresentation of facts on the part of the government. Little knows well what must be done: Reduce fossil fuel use, stop clear-cutting, end the release of CFCs, control population. But such massive mind-set changes don't come overnight, and he fears the forest may be beyond such remedial actions. To say that the fate of the woods looks gloomy to Little is to put it mildly. He doesn't mind being branded an alarmist, for it is an alarm that he wishes to spread. Biting and eloquent. A book that should make the current surge of environmental glad-riders sit back and reconsider.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Viking