Ruth Seeley's Reviews > Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests

Empire of the Beetle by Andrew Nikiforuk
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Dec 10, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: narrative-non-fiction

A fascinating read that, unfortunately, is mostly a scathing indictment of corporate and political folly (what's unfortunate about it is that there doesn't seem to be any way back, given the perfect storm we've colluded in creating by promoting monoculture instead of the natural diversity nature intended). Nikiforuk's a compelling writer, and provides an excellent overview of the factors that have combined to doom our forests: a refusal to let forests renew themselves by fire; global warming leading to longer lifespans and increased reproductivity amongst various tree-killing beetles; misguided and often cynical attempts to deal with the devastation the beetles have wrought.

Other reviews have focused on Chapter 7, "The Song of the Beetle," and the interesting science experiment and music that's resulted from 'listening' to trees to determine if they've been infested with beetles. The sections of the book I actually found most moving were those that dealt with the response of people in the wake of the devastation, the artistic response (not well known outside northern and central British Columbia) to the sudden loss of forests that had survived being plundered by centuries, and Chapter 8, "The Sheath-Winged Cosmos," that details both 'beetle trials' and the way our attitude to the species has evolved to our mutual detriment. This is a must-read for tree-huggers and non-tree huggers alike.

Here's what some other people had to say about it:

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message 1: by Brian (new) - added it

Brian Well said, Ruth. What we have wrought is truly illogical and short-sighted. Unfortunately the most depressing aspect of the tragedy is the ongoing willful blindness of the people we elect to man the controls. Thank you for the intriguing review.


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