THE MAKING OF A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALIST by Gordon K. Durnil

THE MAKING OF A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALIST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An engaging and thought-provoking memoir from a political conservative whose environmental consciousness was raised during a stint as co-head of a watchdog agency. From 1989 through 1994, attorney Durnil served as US chairman of the International Joint Commission, a six-member Canadian-American body with advisory (rather than regulatory) authority over the Great Lakes and rivers that flow through both countries. After offering a brief autobiogrpahical account, the author gets down to business with a detailed rundown on the commission and its objectives, in particular, a toxin-free Great Lakes Basin. In the course of his work with the IJC, Durnil became deeply disturbed by the weight of evidence attesting to the systemic health hazards (birth defects, breast cancer, diminished sperm counts, et al.) caused by the discharge of poisonous chemicals into running streams and other bodies of water. A lifelong Tory and behind-the-scenes force in the Republican party who has an abiding faith in free enterprise, limited state powers, and individual (as opposed to group) rights, the author does not look to government for solutions to pollution problems. Indeed, he argues that the primary responsibility for a safe and sane environment belongs to industry, whose resort to ""denial, diversion, and delay"" in its public positions greatly dismays him. An equal opportunity critic, Durnil takes to task the environmental establishment for preaching to the choir. In like vein, the author faults the press for overlooking stories of socioeconomic significance or vitiating them with ill-advised attempts to achieve balance; educators for failing to make their students environmentally literate; and the electorate, whose sense of stewardship has been dulled by its disaffection with the body politic. Uncommonly sensible and heartfelt perspectives on being green, from a concerned citizen for whom environmentalism has become a matter of enlightened self-interest.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.