cover image Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species

Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species

Charles C. Mann. Alfred A. Knopf, $29.95 (302pp) ISBN 978-0-679-42002-6

In Oklahoma, a highway to improve access to a hospital that serves poor people was delayed for more than four years to protect a beetle. In enforcing the Endangered Species Act, do we put insects above human needs? Mann and Plummer, coauthors of The Aspirin Wars, argue that trying to save every species is unethical and impractical, that we have to make choices. They cite case histories of ecological conflict: the snail darter in Tennessee, the Karner Blue butterfly in New York and Wisconsin, a bird habitat threatened by home-building in Texas. When the act passed in 1973, few people--least of all, Congress, the authors say--understood its ramifications, especially the cost. The act is up for renewal this year. Mann and Plummer offer suggestions for making it more practical in this provocative, timely and reasonable study. (Feb.)