Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth

Overview

"We have long lorded over the ocean. But only recently have we become aware of the myriad life-forms beneath its waves. We now know that this delicate ecosystem is our life-support system; it regulates the planet's temperatures and climate and comprises 99 percent of living space on earth. So when we change the chemistry of the whole ocean system, as we are now, life as we know it is threatened." "In Seasick, veteran science journalist Alanna Mitchell dives beneath the surface of the world's oceans to give readers a sense of how this watery realm ...

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Overview

"We have long lorded over the ocean. But only recently have we become aware of the myriad life-forms beneath its waves. We now know that this delicate ecosystem is our life-support system; it regulates the planet's temperatures and climate and comprises 99 percent of living space on earth. So when we change the chemistry of the whole ocean system, as we are now, life as we know it is threatened." "In Seasick, veteran science journalist Alanna Mitchell dives beneath the surface of the world's oceans to give readers a sense of how this watery realm can be managed and preserved, and with it life on earth. Each chapter features a different group of researchers, who introduce readers to the importance of ocean currents, the building of coral structures, or the effects of acidification. With Mitchell at the helm, readers submerge 3,000 feet to gather sea sponges that may contribute to cancer care, see firsthand the lava lamp-like dead zone covering 17,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of Mexico, and witness the simultaneous spawning of corals under a full moon in Panama." The first book to look at the planetary environmental crisis through the lens of the global ocean, Seasick takes the reader on an emotional journey through a hidden area of the planet and urges conservation and reverence for the fount from which all life on earth sprang.

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Editorial Reviews

American Scientist
Mitchell trawls the oxygen-depleted oceanic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, counts the days after the full moon in Panama to figure out when to search for signs of coral spawn, questions what a souring ocean chemistry holds for the future of marine plankton communities, and recounts the actions that have depleted global fisheries, documenting the toll that one frightening assault after another has taken on our ocean....Faced with the myriad ways humans are changing the ocean, Mitchell admits that giving in to despair would be easy. Instead, she chooses a personal voyage of discovery in an effort to get to the bottom of things—in some instances literally....I found the argument for hope and change that she presents compelling."—Rick MacPherson, American Scientist

— Rick MacPherson

Green Prophet
Mitchell is a writer at ease explaining scientific fact and research, and at the same time writing lush evocations of great beauty on her travels around the world, as well as describing fear, insecurity and tragedy.

— James Murray-White

Kiho Kim

Seasick is a travelog of sorts in which Mitchell takes her readers around the world to investigate the signs and causes of an unhealthy ocean…For many of us, the stories told in this book will not be new. But those stories are well worth listening to agaig, if only to remind ourselves to ask and be able to answer the question, ‘So what?’”—Kiho Kim, Oceanography

— Oceanography

American Scientist - Rick MacPherson
"Mitchell trawls the oxygen-depleted oceanic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, counts the days after the full moon in Panama to figure out when to search for signs of coral spawn, questions what a souring ocean chemistry holds for the future of marine plankton communities, and recounts the actions that have depleted global fisheries, documenting the toll that one frightening assault after another has taken on our ocean....Faced with the myriad ways humans are changing the ocean, Mitchell admits that giving in to despair would be easy. Instead, she chooses a personal voyage of discovery in an effort to get to the bottom of things—in some instances literally....I found the argument for hope and change that she presents compelling."—Rick MacPherson, American Scientist
Green Prophet - James Murray-White
"Mitchell is a writer at ease explaining scientific fact and research, and at the same time writing lush evocations of great beauty on her travels around the world, as well as describing fear, insecurity and tragedy."
Kiho Kim - Oceanography
Seasick is a travelog of sorts in which Mitchell takes her readers around the world to investigate the signs and causes of an unhealthy ocean…For many of us, the stories told in this book will not be new. But those stories are well worth listening to agaig, if only to remind ourselves to ask and be able to answer the question, ‘So what?’”—Kiho Kim, Oceanography
American Scientist

"Mitchell trawls the oxygen-depleted oceanic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, counts the days after the full moon in Panama to figure out when to search for signs of coral spawn, questions what a souring ocean chemistry holds for the future of marine plankton communities, and recounts the actions that have depleted global fisheries, documenting the toll that one frightening assault after another has taken on our ocean....Faced with the myriad ways humans are changing the ocean, Mitchell admits that giving in to despair would be easy. Instead, she chooses a personal voyage of discovery in an effort to get to the bottom of things—in some instances literally....I found the argument for hope and change that she presents compelling."—Rick MacPherson, American Scientist

— Rick MacPherson

Green Prophet

"Mitchell is a writer at ease explaining scientific fact and research, and at the same time writing lush evocations of great beauty on her travels around the world, as well as describing fear, insecurity and tragedy."

— James Murray-White

Library Journal
The oceans occupy 99 percent of the living space on Earth and are crucial to human welfare. How are they impacted by global warming? Mitchell (Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots) takes readers on a maritime journey to learn about the effects of higher temperatures, salinity, acidity, and volume on marine animals and plants. The author travels to the Great Barrier Reef, the Gulf of Mexico, China, and Spain, among other places, interviews scientists, goes on marine research vessels and a diving expedition, describes the current destruction of coral reefs and declining fish populations, and explains why we should care. She focuses on greenhouse gases, while Richard Ellis in The Empty Ocean concentrates on overfishing and the destruction of marine habitats through human activities. VERDICT Mitchell's book serves as a useful introduction for general readers unaware of the effects of global climate change and high school students exploring a career path in the marine and environmental sciences. While somewhat superficial compared with Ellis's book, it does present a strong case for urgency in solving the problem of global warming.—Judith B. Barnett, Univ. of Rhode Island Lib., Kingston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226532585
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alanna Mitchell spent fourteen years as a writer covering science and the environment at the Globe and Mail. She is the author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots, also published by the University of Chicago Press. In 2010, Mitchell received the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment for Seasick. She is the first book author to win the Grantham Prize, and the first Canadian.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

1       The last best place on earth 
         Great Barrier Reef

2       Reading the vital signs: Oxygen   

         Gulf of Mexico

3       Reading the vital signs: pH 

         Puerto Rico

4       Reading the vital signs: Metabolism 

         Plymouth, England

5       Reading the vital signs: Fecundity     

         Panama

6       Reading the vital signs: Life force      

         Halifax, Canada

7       Reading the vital signs: Medical history  

         Spain

8       Reading the vital sign that is China     

         Haikou City

9       Reading the vital signs: Adaptability  

         Zanzibar

10     Finding hope 

         The Dry Tortugas

         Epilogue: A call for wisdom  

         Acknowledgments 

         Selected bibliography

         Index   

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