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Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage

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A remarkable scientific meditation on and spiritual exploration of one of our least appreciated natural resources—the Atlantic Ocean. Not since Rachel Carson has a writer been able to give voice so compellingly to the ocean—its mythic history and its precarious future. In the course of an ocean voyage, Deborah Cramer weaves the details of the history and science of the Atlantic into a brilliant tapestry that documents our many-faceted reliance on the sea, our betrayal of that bond, the changing landscape of the ...
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Overview

A remarkable scientific meditation on and spiritual exploration of one of our least appreciated natural resources—the Atlantic Ocean. Not since Rachel Carson has a writer been able to give voice so compellingly to the ocean—its mythic history and its precarious future. In the course of an ocean voyage, Deborah Cramer weaves the details of the history and science of the Atlantic into a brilliant tapestry that documents our many-faceted reliance on the sea, our betrayal of that bond, the changing landscape of the ocean floor, and the threatened life of its inhabitants. Bringing together the scientific research of physical oceanographers, geologists, biologists, and chemists from both sides of the Atlantic, Cramer presents a devastating report of the environmental damage inflicted on these waters. From the decks of her sailing vessel she describes with vivid passion the intricate and fragile web of marine life, the visible disappearance of schools of fish plundered by the competitive fishing industry, and the changing rhythms of the Atlantic from the rough, chilly Gulf of Maine to the calm, weedy currents of the Sargasso Sea. 20 line b/w drawings, maps.

Author Biography: Deborah Cramer writes about science and the environment. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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Editorial Reviews

Bill McKibben
If you've ever walked the shores of this great ocean...wondering what lay beyond—this fine book will let you know.
William K. Reilly
Cramer...has written powerfully of the threats to its continuing productivity.
Peter Davison
[A] vital and eloquent narrative, biblical in scope...an eye-opener.
Jennifer Ackerman
[H]ugely satisfying....Not since Rachel Carson has there been such an intimate portrait of a whole sea.
Paul R. Epstein
A beautifully written portrait of an essential treasure.
Publishers Weekly
Plumbing the depth of one of the world's two great oceans on a scientific voyage from Woods Hole, Mass., to Barbados, Cramer moves from the subatomic structure of water molecules and the organic chemistry of microbiology to the remnants of immense geological epochs, highlighting the critical interdependence of all life on earth with the sea. In addition to illuminating the connection between ocean currents and continental climate, Cramer capably explains the sometimes perplexing effect of the ocean on geology, including the Atlantic Ocean's tidal influence on atmospheric dehydration and hence, Saharan Africa's continual desiccation. We also learn about some of the lesser-known aquatic creatures that dwell at the surface of the sea as well as in its abysmal depths. Cramer is at her best combining the esoteric data of hydrology with her personal musings on the mysteries of life, achieving originality and poetic grace in her reflections on the oceans and heavens during shipboard night watches. However, she too frequently lapses into pop-culture clich?s regarding human depredation on the planet, and is weakest when she descends to overwrought New Age platitudes on Western culture's disdain for nature. Fortunately, her oceanic subject is vast enough to weather these petty shoals of ecology banalities. Illus., maps. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sailing from Woods Hole to Barbados, a science writer waxes lyrical, analytical, and admonitory about the ocean she loves. In a wonderful account that reveals an eclectic, comprehensive intelligence, Cramer creates a primer of Atlantic studies. (Throughout, she refers to "Atlantic" rather than "the Atlantic," granting our oldest ocean a sort of member-of-the-family status.) She begins with some basic statistics (Atlantic is 32 million square miles and 12,000 feet deep) and states directly the question that propels her entire argument: "What hope is there for the sea if we do not love, nurture, and protect its life-giving waters?" Indeed. In virtually every segment she sprinkles depressing data and dire forecasts about the health of Atlantic. We learn about the effects of global warming, of ignoring the hole in the ozone layer, of over-fishing (there are virtually no cod remaining in New England's waters, and Georges Bank-once one of the world's greatest fishing grounds-has been closed since 1992), of stealing beach property from sea turtles, of pouring millions of gallons of untreated North Carolina hog waste into the ocean, of failing to control the use of nitrogen fertilizers in the Midwest, of being abusive stewards of a resilient but vulnerable resource. Cramer explains ocean currents, observing that the most rapid inland rivers are downright sluggish by comparison; she explains the relationship between the world's weather and the Atlantic's attitude; she has a lovely chapter on the Sargasso Sea and absolutely stunning chapters on the geology of the Atlantic, which first opened about 152 million years ago and will depart in another 200 million. If the history of earth werecompressed into an hour, she says, the Atlantic would have existed only for the last ten minutes. Cramer employs some striking illustrative details-e.g., she demonstrates the Atlantic's circulation by telling about some plastic toys, frozen in the pack ice near the Bering Strait, that may one day float up on a New England beach. A powerful and provocative synthesis: first-rate science journalism. (20 line drawings, maps)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393020199
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/1901
  • Edition description: LST ED.
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.92 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Cramer writes about science and the environment. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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