240 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.5 in
June 21, 2011
Greystone Books Ltd.
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1553655109
ISBN - 13: 9781553655107
Read from the Book
From Chapter 8: "The Sheath-Winged Cosmos"
Before the advent of the computer screen, suicide bombers, and acid-filled oceans, beetles got some respect in this world. When human languages and cultures were as diverse as the stars, beetles informed how we lived. They inspired artists, fascinated scientists, illustrated evolution, educated philosophers, pollinated crops, delighted children, hardened warriors, decorated women, and put food on the table. They even merited legal representation in fifteenth-century ecclesiastical courts. Not so long ago, the noble beetle populated our songs, dreams, poems, proverbs, and fables. European peasants gave thanks to "Beasts of the Virgin." Egyptian pyramid builders wore dung-beetle charms for good luck. Samurai warriors strutted about like Japanese horned beetles, and German and French villagers made soups out of cockchafers. Beetles inspired all sorts of human inventions, including agriculture, the wheel, mummification, the theory of evolution, and, yes, the chain saw.
Although most politicians don't know it, beetles belong to the "great commonwealth of living things." Coleoptera (the word means "sheath-winged") not only outnumber and outrank mammals but predate dinosaurs. They remain the most successful animals on earth. When William Blake wrote about holding "infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour," he was probably thinking about beetles. Every day, the sheer audacity and abundance of beetles makes Homo sapiens
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Alaska Storm
Chapter Two: The Beetle, the Bus, and the Carbon Castle
Chapter Three: The Lodgepole Tsunami
Chapter Four: The War against the Insect Enemy
Chapter Five: In the Wake of the Beetle
Chapter Six: The Ghost Forest
Chapter Seven: The Song of the Beetle
Chapter Eight: The Sheath-Winged Cosmos
Chapter Nine: The Two Dianas
Chapter Ten: The Parable of the Worm
Sources and Further Information
From the Publisher
A Globe & Mail Top 100 Selection
Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of pine beetle (also known as the 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.
The pine beetle didn't act alone. Misguided science, out-of-control logging, bad public policy, and a hundred years of fire suppression released the world's oldest forest manager from all natural constraints. The beetles exploded wildly in North America 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 played a role. And despite the billions of public dollars spent on control efforts, the beetles burn away like a fire that can't be put out.
Author Andrew Nikiforuk draws on first-hand accounts from entomologists, botanists, foresters, and rural residents to investigate this unprecedented pine beetle plague, its startling implications, and the lessons it holds. Written in an accessible way, Empire of the Beetle is the only book on the pine beetle epidemic that is devastating the North American West.
Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.
About the Author
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, and The Fourth Horseman: A Short History of Plagues, Scourges and Emerging Viruses. His book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, published to wide acclaim, won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and became a national bestseller. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.
"...packed with statistics, vivid descriptions of bark beetle life cycles, and portraits of scientists and forest managers struggling to cope with beetle colonies..." -- LA Times "The Canadian experience, as chronicled by Andrew Nikiforuk, makes a strong case that the best defense against massive insect outbreaks and large forest fires is to have a diverse landscape with a heterogeneous variety of stand ages and tree composition." -- Homer Tribune "Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests...is an eye-opener, not just about how much damage bark beetles are doing but on how much humans have laid the table for the bugs' banquet. The whole episode ought to instruct us on how to do things better, and there are lessons which Nikiforuk includes, if those who are in position to manage decisions about the forests are listening." -- The Commercial Dispatch "...the book is more than just an enjoyable romp through matters coleopterological; it makes many important points of considerable importance." -- Literary Review of Canada "Nikiforuk draws on interviews with scientists, foresters and rural residents to paint a nuanced picture of beetle outbreaks and their long-term implications... Although climate change has rung the dinner bell for hungry beetles, the author suggests, human arrogance has surely set the table." -- Science News "Drawing on first hand accounts from entomologists, botanists, foresters and rural residents in Canada