An old saying goes, if you try to walk the middle of the road the only thing you get is hit by a car.
That can be true of this book, evidenced by the reviews. It seems highly politically motivated people view this book through their prism of ideology, and that is a shame. What we have here is a concise, well-written tome covering various issues from fertilizers, to global warming, pollution, and more.
It does so by first laying out the problem, looking at it from a scientific side, then attempts to, through economic and political arguments, discuss both sides of the issue.
I especially appreciated the fertilizer and pesticide chapters. As a small Christmas Tree grower I was interested in the science and politics behind using or not using these products, they environmental impacts as well as the economic impacts for and against using many of these products. I found their arguments well thought out, fair, and concise.
I think many on the left may not like many of the arguments made in the book. But at least this book shows both arguments, unlike other media sources such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth".
As with anything you read on hot topics, do not use this book as the be all end off. If you are from the left or the right don't base all your arguments from this.
This book is, however, a good starting point to begin your readings. Question everything. Question with boldness. This book will get you asking the tough questions.
17 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Authors Gillman and Heberling begin by observing that it's hard to have a debate on environmental issues that isn't confounded by the debaters' political opinions. Indeed, for many people, how you feel about (say) global warming is more an issue of how you feel about Al Gore than what you know about the actual science and policy implications. This book is an attempt to cut thorugh the politics and lay out the issues behind the debates with (hopefully) a minimum of argumentum ad hominem.
Each chapter takes a particular issue, like global warming, overuse of fertilizer, or air quality, and begins by attempting to lay out the science, the economic issues, and the how policies may affect individual liberties, and in that I think they do a very good job. This is followed by a choice of policies that may be pursued for each issue, beginning (usually) with "Do nothing" and followed by various degrees of intervention. Each alternative is given what they term a "right wing" rating and a "left wing" rating, with discussion, and finally, their measured proposals. So how successful are they at reaching politics-free solutions?
Truthfully, it's just about impossible to make policy proposals that are completely independent of any political philosophy. How you feel about individual versus collective rights is going to strongly influence how you rank various solutions. One person's reasonable intervention is going to be another's abuse of power. The authors come across as sharing a basically libertarian philosophy, and so are inclined to err on the side of personal liberty, though not so much so that they'll deny what they see as a clear and present danger. If they do have one strong bias, it's in favor of science over emotion.
Overall, they do a very good job of laying out the issues and the debates. Even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool collectivist or a hard core social conservative I think you'll still find this to be a useful guide to some of the major environmental issues we're all facing, and an aid to seeing the other side's viewpoint in a less critical and more generous manner.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Useful book with a misleading title28 janvier 2011
The title of this book annoys me because I believe it is misleading. It implies that the authors' point of view is that government is intrusive and should not be involved in food policy, at least at the local level. In fact, that is not at all what the authors are saying. Instead, they attempt to present the best arguments from both a liberal and a conservative point of view and then leave it up to the reader to decide how s/he will think about a particular issue.
The range of issues covered, while all relating to food policy in the United States, is quite wide. The authors discuss everything from the use of chemical fertilizers on a family lawn to the pros and cons of foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And the authors appear to take care in presenting both the pluses and minuses of each proposed policy. There were several instances where I was surprised to learn that the arguments from, in my case, "the other side" were valid. For example, it turns out that some organic foods are actually exposed to more pesticides than are non-organic foods of the same type. And that carbon exchange programs may appear to reduce emissions, but in fact may not do much to improve air quality at all.
One chapter is devoted to each major food policy debate. At the chapter's end, the book's authors summarize the various policy alternatives that have been proposed to address each issue, indicating by numbers of stars how a conservative and a liberal might rate each option. This technique makes it easy to distinguish, albeit in a general way, where the primary political groups stand on each policy alternative.
Admittedly, true policy wonks will probably not be content with the overviews provided in this concise, useful little book. But for most of us who are (understandably) confused about what is, could or should be happening in today's food policy arena, this book is an excellent resource -- just ignore the title.
10 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
How the Government got in Your Backyard / 978-1-60469-001-9
I read a lot of books on health, food, and government policy, so I was really excited to get this book, but I ended up being very disappointed.
Firstly, the tone is very unpleasant. The book waffles between a very snide 'superior' tone - there's a whole section on how "If you like your opinions and don't think that appreciating the other side of an argument is important, then we encourage you to put this book down right now, because it wasn't written for you," and it just comes off as very self-congratulatory - and a very dry, unfocused 'scholarly' tone, with the book skimping all over the place on specific issues, and comes across as very disorganized.
Secondly, the 'facts' contained herein are incredibly superficial, with almost zero documentation. Weasel words are employed frequently, names and studies are never cited, and there are zero footnotes to back up the authors claims. One example early on that bugged me immensely was this: "A dairy in California was brought to the attention of the USDA in 2005 for violating organic standards... A supplier of organic milk to major retailers line Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's received a letter from the USDA in 2007 telling it to clean up its act or risk losing certification..." Much of the book reads this way, and it's very frustrating! "A dairy" - which one? "A supplier" - where? When "studies" are said to show something, we never hear where the study was conducted, or who conducted it. This is very important information, and leaving it out means that we just have to take the authors' words for everything. I understand not wanting to break the narrative, but that's what footnotes and citations are for - the two college professors who wrote this book should surely understand that!
Thirdly, a lot of this "nonpartisan" (as the subtitle claims) book smells like the Golden Mean fallacy. There's a lot of talk about Al Gore (here provided as the example of liberal extremism) and Sarah Palin (here provided as the example of conservative extremism), with the implication that the truth obviously lies somewhere nicely in the middle. It's hard to shake the feeling that a lot of the weasel words are employed to support this Golden Mean fallacy - for instance, when the authors seem to shake off the concern that the use of rBST in milk cows may be linked to cancer with the statement that "The FDA, however, cites research that shows that rBST...". I don't like the phrasing here. What research? Who conducted it? Is it reasonable research? Should we trust it? Notice that the authors aren't really agreeing or disagreeing with the research - they're merely repeating the 'fact' that the FDA cited some research at least once. Are we to really take from that 'fact' that rBST concerns are over-blown and Republicans and Democrats need to meet somewhere in the middle on rBST? And what IS the 'middle' for rBST - half rBST milk and half organic milk?
Since I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from Vine, I'm hoping that the complete lack of citations and footnotes is some quirk of the ARC, and that they will be included in the full version. For that, I'll give this 3 stars, but if the published copy is the same as the ARC I received, I wouldn't give more than 2 - the shoddy scholarship and rushed writing makes me very nervous, and I'd rather turn to one of the many, many alternatives available in the field of environmentalism.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
10 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A Book That Should Make You Think, But Will Probably Irritate You8 décembre 2010
The authors of this book have created a unique look at various scientific topics that are either prominent in the news currently, or are hot buttons for various people. Chapters include global climate change, invasive plant species, organic foods, pesticide use and a number of others. What makes the book unique is the way in which the authors have arranged the chapters and the information provided.
They begin by giving a short overview of the subject in its totality and move on to separating the subject into the true, unbiased science on the subject followed by the political aspects of the issue. Following that, they provide various ways to proceed....making the laws stricter, loosening them or just leaving things as they are.
As most people have already made a decision on where they stand on an issue, it is likely they will be irritated to see opposing opinions. In addition, as the authors point out nicely in the closing chapter, most people decide an issue based on political leanings, rather than on the actual science and are not inclined to learn the real science behind and issue.
The book should make you think about your positions on various topics, if only slightly. It should also make you realize just how much of what is happening in this country with scientific issues is political rather than fact.
If you have an open mind, you will find the book interesting and enlightening. If, however, you tend to have your mind made up then this book will probably just irritate you. The book would have earned five stars, but the somewhat dry nature of the writing reduced it to 4 stars. In addition to making a wonderful read for the public, it would also make a goof textbook for high school and college students.