The Gnat Is Older than Man: Global Environment and the Human Agenda

In This Review

The Gnat Is Older than Man: Global Environment and the Human Agenda

By Christopher D. Stone
Princeton University Press, 1993
341 pp. $21.95

Despite the main title, this is a serious book by a professor of international law concerned with environmental issues. The book contains much interesting material on current international environmental issues such as deforestation, ozone depletion, toxic waste disposal and climate change, with special attention to the legal framework for dealing with them. It debunks much of the environmental hype that is designed to scare the public into action but also points out that hard evidence leaves plenty of cause for concern in some areas. The real contribution of the book is to examine the philosophical underpinnings of growing concern with the environment, address sympathetically the weaknesses in what could be called the environmentalist creed, and attempt to provide remedies for those weaknesses. It is a levelheaded, thoughtful and informative essay, despite its conclusory plea for a multidimensional, non-anthropocentric ethics based on our intuitions. The book is a useful introduction for environmentalists and non-environmentalists alike to the practical, philosophical and ethical complexities of many international environmental issues.

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