Ehrenfeld (Biology/Rutgers; The Arrogance of Humanism, 1978, etc.) lambastes some richly deserving hate objects--greedheads, death merchants, control freaks, lusters after power, mossbacks, and scofflaws--folks busy turning planet Earth into a spiritual and environmental cesspool. This collection of 20 quick, deft essays on our relationship to each other and nature has a Faustian theme: We have gambled away any semblance of an unaffected relationship with the natural world to pursue evanescent moments of power and control and material plenty. It's a tale of how human avarice, ignorance, blind faith in technology and experts, and overweening pride of place in the planetary structure have sent us headlong into the abyss. Our habitat is being destroyed, Ehrenfeld says, and our cultural and ethical heritage reduced to barbarism. It's time to scale back, decrease consumption, delay gratification, jettison illusions, get real. Which is hardly late-breaking news--but Ehrenfeld's essays are wonderfully tight, well-phrased, convincing arguments that occasionally slip into stream-of-consciousness mode, his thoughts beetling around in Brownian motion, charming and funny. While this conciseness is ideal for simple, short essays, however, here many arguments (such as that on overmanagement) are served up time and again, allowing the sandman to make major inroads into your concentration. More irksome is the thankfully infrequent patronizing, scolding tone (``When we travel to untamed places, it behooves us not to dismiss wildness, or to try and bludgeon them into complacent submissiveness''). These essays can't be said to chart unexplored regions, but the ground Ehrenfeld covers gets a good and thorough turning.