America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade?

By Damstra, Terri | Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2005 | Go to article overview

America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade?


Damstra, Terri, Environmental Health Perspectives


America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade?

By Harvey Blatt Cambridge, MA:MIT Press, 2005. 277 pp. ISBN: 0-262-02572-8, $27.95 cloth

Protecting the environment continues to be a top priority for most Americans. Some examples of major environmental concerns include water and air pollution, hazardous waste disposal, use of toxic chemicals, and environmental threats children. In America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade? Harvey Blatt provides a comprehensive status report on the following nine selected complex environmental problems: water pollution, dangers of floods, leaching of garbage from landfills, pesticide runoff, depletion of energy resources, global warming, air pollution, ozone depletion, and radiation from nuclear power plants and the storage of nuclear wastes. He also describes whether the situation with respect to these issues is deteriorating or improving and what actions can be taken at the individual, corporate, and political levels to ensure safe and adequate resources for future generations.

This book contains a large amount of information and statistics, often presented in charts, figures, and tables. It is easily comprehensible, and one does not "get lost in the numbers." Its conversational tone, interspersed with anecdotes and humor, makes the 238 pages of text easy to read and at times entertaining.

However, the book does not provide a scientific review or analysis of the selected environmental issues and at times does not provide a balanced scientific viewpoint. For example, the introductory statement that "data suggesting that toxic agents in the environment have reduced the average male sperm count by 42 percent in the past 50 years" is not backed up by references nor is there mention of other references that do not support this hypothesis. Such a statement in isolation could be very alarming to the general public. The references cited in the book are mainly secondary sources, in many instances from magazine and newspaper articles. Perhaps it is this reliance on secondary sources that sometimes leads to inaccuracies and misleading statements. For example, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that global warming may result in an "epidemic" of an increase in male babies over female (p. …

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