LOSING GROUND by John G. Mitchell


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It is pleasant to learn that the more high-minded environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club are turning from courtroom-and-backpack cautionary exposition to a more generally accessible and likable personal journalism to spread the word. Mitchell, a former newspaper reporter, here revisits a handful of sites across the country to observe the complex human factors causing environmental change. He reports on California water management problems, oil drilling and those ""friendly nuclear neighbors"" (one plant was to be perched on a geological fault), in the Catskills he joins in the local bar talk about the damage done by highway building; he deplores the ""trashing of Staten Island"" where from the ferry one may ""catch sight of the Statue of Liberty rising as if newborn from a huge mound of (scow) garbage."" There's also the story of the battle to preserve the Everglades; a small town in New Mexico where the resident Navajos are apparently as expendable as the scenic surroundings; Minnesota where ""every liter of water into Duluth carries 35 million asbestiform fibers. . . . ""There are essays on corruption of Lake Michigan and another reprise on offshore oil drilling. Throughout Mitchell edges into the issues in a meandering, easy way, talking casually with friends, foes and the little guys manning pumps or quaffing beer. He summarizes a legal scrap here, a noisy hearing there. Good, easygoing, knowledgeable reportage, which brings the high Sierras down into the valleys where most of us live.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1975
Publisher: Sierra Club