Fate of the Wild
The Endangered Species Act and the Future of Biodiversity

Bonnie B. Burgess

A frank and inspiring discussion of the Endangered Species Act and an urgent call to conserve biodiversity


"Endangered species protection is a central issue in the scientific, political, and public debates about the future of biodiversity on the planet. In Fate of the Wild, Bonnie Burgess covers enormous territory and does a commendable job of boiling down the issues. She steers a balanced course between political extremes and makes a unique contribution to this debate."
—Stanwyn G. Shetler, Curator of Botany Emeritus and former Deputy Director, National Museum of Natural History

"In Fate of the Wild, Bonnie Burgess does what has not yet been done, namely to review the whole subject of endangered species in the United States, from the Endangered Species Act to the present day. Fate of the Wild is an important resource for anyone trying to understand the history and the intricacies of this issue—a totally accessible book for the layperson and specialist alike. This is a real contribution."
—Thomas Lovejoy, Counselor to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Chief Biodiversity Advisor, The World Bank

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Given widespread concern over the worldwide loss of biodiversity and popular crusades to "save" endangered species and habitats, why has the Endangered Species Act remained unauthorized since October 1992? In Fate of the Wild Bonnie B. Burgess offers an illuminating assembly of facts about biodiversity and straightforward analysis of the legislative stalemate surrounding the Endangered Species Act. Fate of the Wild surveys the history of and analyzes the conflict over the legislation itself, the heated issues regarding its enforcement, and the land-use and habitat battles waged between conservationists, environmental activists, and private property proponents.

Burgess's meticulous and exhaustive research makes Fate of the Wild a valuable resource for professionals in conservation biology, public policy, environmental law, and environmental organizations, while the narrative clarity of the book will appeal to anyone interested in the fate of nonhuman species.

Burgess explains how wilderness has been consumed by concrete and asphalt, the effects of toxins on plants and animals, strip mine tailings, oil slicks, and smog. She exposes, as well, the "invisible" damage that manifests itself in the subtle degradation of natural systems and in the increased incidence and number of diseases, the rise in human infertility, and the drastic alteration of weather patterns and landscapes.

Fate of the Wild presents a factual and balanced discussion of the various sides of the contemporary debate over the Endangered Species Act, alongside the author's clearly stated position: We are overpopulating, polluting, and overdeveloping our environment, and as a species we have embarked on a crash course toward a sixth great extinction event on this Earth.

Page count: 232 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Bonnie B. Burgess is an adjunct instructor of Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation in Johns Hopkins University's Advanced Academic Programs, and of Environmental Sciences at Marymount University. She has been a public educator at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park since 1995. Burgess holds an MS in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.