Empire of the Beetle by Andrew Nikiforuk
How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests (David Suzuki Foundation Series)

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This fascinating and thought-provoking book about an ancient insect pest exposes the frailty of seemingly stable man-managed habitats and presages the climate-induced ordeals to come.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of improbable bark beetle outbreaks unsettled iconic forests and communities across western North America. An insect the size of a rice kernel eventually killed more than 30 billion pine and spruce trees from Alaska to New Mexico. Often appearing in masses larger than schools of killer whales, the beetles engineered one of the world's greatest forest die-offs since the deforestation of Europe by peasants between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

The beetle didn't act alone. Misguided science, out-of-control logging, bad public policy, and a hundred years of fire suppression created a volatile geography that released the world's oldest forest manager from all natural constraints. Like most human empires, the beetles exploded wildly and then crashed, leaving in their wake grieving landowners, humbled scientists, hungry animals, and altered watersheds. Although climate change triggered this complex event, human arrogance assuredly set the table. With little warning, an ancient insect pointedly exposed the frailty of seemingly stable manmade landscapes.

Drawing on first-hand accounts from entomologists, botanists, foresters, and rural residents, award-winning journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, investigates this unprecedented beetle plague, its startling implications, and the lessons it holds.
 

About Andrew Nikiforuk

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Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has written about education, economics, and the environment for the last two decades. His books include Pandemonium; Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig's War against Oil, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction; The Fourth Horseman; and Tar Sands, which won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and became a national bestseller. His most recent book, Empire of the Beetle, was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction and selected as a top book of the year by both The Globe and Mail and Amazon.ca. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.
 
Published July 22, 2011 by Greystone Books. 240 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction
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National Post arts

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Reviewed by Richard Sherbaniuk on Sep 16 2011

This fascinating and thought-provoking book about an ancient insect pest exposes the frailty of seemingly stable man-managed habitats and presages the climate-induced ordeals to come.

Read Full Review of Empire of the Beetle: How Hum... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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