by Lesley Choyce
THIS IS NOT a book to be taken lightly. David Day has amassed a sort of encyclopedia of all the malevolent, abusive, careless, and simply ignorant actions that we have undertaken against the planet and the living things thereon. It would he easy to he depressed by the conspiracy against lite that he documents so well. It is appalling, for example, to be reminded that the ivory trade was responsible for "trimming the herd of African elephants" from 10 million in 1870 to 1.3 million by 1980. Or that "most apes and monkeys (for zoos) are captured by hunters who shoot the females who are carrying the Young.
The book contains a wealth of information about animal abuse (and planet abuse, for that matter) that will make even the most jaded reader wake up his Spouse in the middle of the night with the jarring recall of something just read from this book ... like the revelation by animal welfare activists that, "Any woman who wears a wild fur has on her back at least 150 hours of torture."
Yes, there is some very bad news in the book. But thank God, David Day has spent the time to go about documenting it and serving it up in a readable and palatable form so that we can begin to right the wrongs we have wreaked. The Eco Wars should be required reading in high school and university biology courses, if not in the study of history ... which all too often ignores our impact on the natural world in favour of discussing which king preceded which queen.
The chapters are short. Day`s approach is hit and run. State the facts, keep the preaching to a minimum, make the text accessible to a broad audience and simply compile the specifics of the wreckage.
After all, there is considerable territory to he covered: assassinated environmentalists, whale slaughters, petnappers, men who have earned Ph.D.s for animal torture, biological bombs that spread disease to win a war, nuclear weapons accidents, hundreds of species threatened with extinction or already extinct, and the conspiracy to keep all those who defend the environment as quiet as possible.
But I Would argue that this is such a necessary book that it does not lead the reader to total despair. In fact, I`m actually a bit cheered by the fact that someone else has compiled this "encyclopedia of environmental activism," as Day calls it in the introduction. I now have, at my fingertips, some of the facts and arguments I always wanted when in verbal combat with those who believe that plants, animals, air, and water are all designed for our pleasure, our taking and our abuse. I`m with Cleveland Amory, who detests hunters and speaks of the "right to arm bears." Like him I also now know that the 15 million hunters in America accidentally kill 500 to 1,000 people each year and wound another 7,000 or so.
And now that some perverse logic on the part of the federal fisheries office is about to allow again the slaughter of seals, I need to remind Canadians that Newfoundlanders "have traditionally been nearly as badly exploited as the seals themselves by a handful of greedy ship owners and merchants." As one activist pointed out, by the 1970s, "the seal hunt`s gross earnings in the Newfoundland economy were equal to the contribution made by two MacDonald`s hamburger chain restaurants."
I want everybody to read this book and I hope it gets translated into every language. Maybe as a result we Could become more humane as well as simply human. Maybe it`s the kind of book that will boggle the mind of a 13-year-old to the point that she will decide to dedicate her life to animal welfare or ozone protection. Or perhaps it will help bring an end to the wholesale slaughter of dolphins and whales and the abominations performed on rabbits for the sake of cosmetic testing. For, as Day points out so eloquently, what we do to the world about us, we eventually do to ourselves.