Erosion: Essays of Undoing

Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Oct. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780374280062. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374712297. SCI
Naturalist, educator, and prolific writer Williams (e,g., Finding Beauty in a Broken World) delivers essays and poems originally published between 2012 and 2019. Here, erosion is a metaphor for the loss of various values. A subtheme is the disputed value of rural public lands, with high-stakes clashes between people who appreciate wilderness and those determined to exploit its resources. Williams is particularly concerned with the struggle around the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Bears Ears National Monument, in the high desert of southeast Utah. Republicans and some federal agencies want to reduce the protected areas to extend access for mining, and petroleum and water extraction. The author recounts some of her environmental activities, including guerrilla-style purchase of petroleum leases on tracts of public property, to actually preserve them from drilling. The leases were denied, but that decision is being appealed in court. Other essays contain lyrical descriptions of nature in various locations around the world, decrying human hubris and the damage being caused by climate change.
VERDICT These essays are wide ranging and heartfelt and will attract dedicated environmentalists.

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