‘The Edge’

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

‘The Edge’By Kim Steinhardt and Gary Griggs, foreward by Leon Panetta, full-color photos, Craven Street Books, trade paperback, 301 pages, 2017, $18.95


Attorney Kim Steinhardt and ocean geologist Gary Griggs have marshalled a wealth of compelling evidence, intriguing lore, and unabashed advocacy to rally our steadfast support of California’s “Edge.” Subtitled “The Pressured Past and Precarious Future of California’s Coast,” their wake-up call examines the issues that threaten us in many more ways than we probably imagine. It all has to do with interrelations and consequences, as when creating a harbor benefits shipping, while undermining adjacent structures and killing fish.

The book begins with brief personal essays by the authors. Abundant vignettes, case studies, cautionary tales, and legal insights follow. Throughout, Steinhardt and Griggs instill a passion for the Edge¸ the bounding waves beyond it and what lies beneath. Early on, they describe a feeding frenzy shared by dolphins, sea lions, whales, an albatross and other birds: “Pelicans are relentlessly aiming from high above and suddenly diving at their targets. Sea lions are sliding off the backs of the humpbacks as the giant whales break the surface. The whales blow salty spray into the air before diving in a tireless quest for thousands of anchovies…. The spray from so many whale spouts drifts on the breeze, building into an eerie mist that challenges the sunlight.”

Additionally, “The Edge” deepens our understanding of climate change, a cyclical phenomenon depending on the Earth’s tilt on its axis and position in its elliptical path at a given point in time.

Coasts have dramatically shifted eons ago, to cite one event, “Twenty thousand years ago, the Farallon Islands, 30 miles due west of the Golden Gate Bridge, were the coast of California.”

It didn’t take chemical plants to bring that about. Yet we hurry the pace by belching greenhouse gases into the air, losing wetlands, habitats, and species, meanwhile heating the oceans and melting ice masses, causing water levels to rise.

Inexorably, the Pacific creeps inland, homes tilt with their “backdoors opening onto emptiness,” and sea otters gasp for bare survival.

You’ve got to love Steinhardt and Griggs for sounding the alarm that we’ve reached “ground zero for the looming changes in climate and sea level.” Remember that the terrain now Bakersfield once sat at the bottom of a bay patrolled by giant sharks the size of school buses. Listen and learn.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions from a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Jawbone Canyon, Maturango Museum, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2018-09-21