Facts, Not Fear


308 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88975-194-3
DDC 363.7




Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the former executive director of the Canadian Museum
of Nature.


The stance of this book is no surprise given its publication by The
Fraser Institute, an organization dedicated to “free market
solutions” (according to its Web site) and “noted for its
conservative views” (Canadian Encyclopedia). The authors share
backgrounds in social studies, not biology, while the foreword is by
Patrick Moore, a former president of Greenpeace, which itself is

The authors’ central thesis is that humans are having no large-scale
detrimental impact on the world. Their book is intended as a corrective
to what the authors perceive as variously erroneous, unbalanced, and
fear-provoking literature in environmental education. Addressed to
parents, Facts, Not Fear opens with a general critique of education and
mass media (easy enough targets) and alleged environmental distortion.
Each chapter addresses a specific topic, such as human population,
natural resources, or forests. (Nuclear power and trucking versus rail
are among the few topics not addressed.) Daniel Pauly provides a useful
overview of some of the economic and human factors critical in the
fisheries crisis globally. Evelyn Pinkerton’s chapter on the political
aspects surrounding shared governance of Canadian marine fisheries
reveals the complexities of the issues and is certainly not for the

Perhaps inevitably in a book tackling so broad a subject, there is
great diversity, with material ranging from soft to hard, from poetry to
multivariate analyses. While the chapters dealing with social history
are not difficult to read, others require a strong background: hence the
appropriate readership is advanced.

Rachel Carson, E.O. Wilson, and Al Gore are among the environmental
figures who receive brickbats. Many important distinctions, such as old-
versus second-growth forests, are conveniently ignored. While it is
certainly true that environmental misunderstanding and uncertainty
exist, and that errors in conservation have occurred, the selective and
slanted presentation of this book will justifiably raise the hackles of
those trying to preserve the world for humans and all other species.


Sanera, Michael, and Jane S. Shaw., “Facts, Not Fear,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2308.