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“The Thin Edge"
Anne W. Simon (Avon)

Review by John Gabree

When globs of sludge and fecal matter closed Long Island's southern beaches a couple of summers ago, it came home to most of us how far the deterioration of the coastal environment had progressed. Even though the state tried to blame a passing ship (or confluence of ships) and Long Island's villages tried to blame each other, it was clear almost from the beginning that the true source of the problem was the use by nearly everyone in New York and New Jersey of the coastal waters as a giant toilet.

Though the sludge retreated after a few weeks, Ann Simon demonstrates in her survey of coastal ecology that it will certainly return and, if something is not done soon, close the beaches permanently. This an outcome no one wants, yet very little is being done to prevent it. According to Simon, local and piecemeal efforts are being directed at what is a global and systemic problem. "The Thin Edge," subtitled "Coast and Man in Crisis," offers the kind of overview that has been needed. Stepping back from this fish kill or that clam-bed closing, she explains both the magnitude of the danger and the measures that need to be taken to overcome it. She argues that the delicate balance of the sea's ecology may soon be tipped irreversibly toward its destruction.

Simon is no dewey-eyed liberal. Her passionate essay is one of the most effective efforts of its kind since Rachel Carson's "The Silent Spring." She is not talking here about saving snail darters or diving ducks or lobsters. The endangered species she is worried about is us. (1979)

These book are available through Amazon:
The Thin Edge by Anne W. Simon
The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson


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