Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World

Overview

Nobel Prize winner Al Gore wrote of Deborah Cramer's previous book Great Waters, "I urge everyone to read this book, to act on its message, and to pass on its teachings."

Now Cramer offers a groundbreaking book for an even more urgent time.

Our lives depend on the sea. As gifted science writer Deborah Cramer makes clear in this extraordinary volume, the ocean has been earth's lifeline for more than three and a half billion years. Life began ...

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Overview

Nobel Prize winner Al Gore wrote of Deborah Cramer's previous book Great Waters, "I urge everyone to read this book, to act on its message, and to pass on its teachings."

Now Cramer offers a groundbreaking book for an even more urgent time.

Our lives depend on the sea. As gifted science writer Deborah Cramer makes clear in this extraordinary volume, the ocean has been earth's lifeline for more than three and a half billion years. Life began in the scalding inferno of deep-sea hot springs. The first cell, the first plant, and the first animal were all born in the sea. Climate changes wrought by the sea created evolutionary pathways for mammals and gave rise to our human ancestors some 200,000 years ago. The one, interconnected sea still sustains us. Invisible plants in the ocean's sunlit surface give us air to breathe. Rushing currents supply water to the atmosphere's protective greenhouse and rain to dry land.

But as Cramer reveals in this sweeping look at earth's biography, the vital partnership between earth and the life it nourishes has recently been disrupted. Today, a single terrestrial species, man, has begun to alter the health of the sea itself. The mark of humans on the seas is now everywhere—from the fertile waters of continental shelves to the icy reaches of the poles, from the dazzling diversity of coral reefs to the porous edge of estuaries. Even the open ocean bears clear traces of our harmful ways.

Scientists believe human impact may have already sparked a catastrophic event that could change the sea and the earth irrevocably: the sixth mass planetary extinction on a scale unseen since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But unlike the forces that caused previous extinctions, humankind can make a choice. We can choose the mark we wish to make and the legacy we leave behind.

Written in the passionate tradition of Rachel Carson, Smithsonian Ocean is at once a book for our time and for the ages. Carson wrote: "One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself: What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?" Cramer's powerful and inspiring message is equally a wake-up call: "We hold earth's life-giving waters—and our future—in our hands." Our lives depend on the sea.

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Editorial Reviews

EO Wilson
“Authoritatively researched, clearly written, and beautifully illustrated, this book is best of its class.”
Simon Winchester
“Deborah Cramer’s achievement in creating this classic study of the world’s seas is destined for lasting importance. Her book is a hymn to something that is both beautiful and fragile, a fervent prayer that we recognize it as such, and an eloquent plea for all humankind to cherish it.”
Linda Learauthor of Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature
“Rachel Carson wrote the ocean’s biography for the 20th century, and DeborahCramer, with the same passion and meticulous research, has written it for the21st. This book is a remarkable achievement.”
Thomas E. LovejoyPresident
“This irresistible invitation to explore the ocean that gave birth to life itself,together with the imperative to know the living ocean and treat it with respect,should be in every home.”
Sylvia Earleoceanographer
“With poetic grace and deep scientific savvy, Deborah Cramer eloquentlyconveys the sweeping history of the Earth from fiery origin throughthe explosion of life in the sea to the present era of profound human impact.Whether you seek information or inspiration, this volume is a must.”
Paul EpsteinCenter for Global Health and the Environment
“This elegant, lovingly written book immerses readers in the symbiosis between humanity and the sea. Deborah Cramer’s sweeping work introduces us to the ancestral ocean, on which human influence has now grown profound, and charges us to rejuvenate our essential partnership with its wondrous rhythms and life-giving waters.”
Michael SuttonVice President and Director
“Deborah Cramer has given us an eloquent life history of the ocean,natural and human, and rightly challenges us to exercise better stewardshipof the sea of the sea and leave a legacy of healthy oceans for our children.”
Simon Winchesterauthor of Krakatoa and The Professor and the Madman
“Deborah Cramer’s achievement in creating this classic study of the world’s seas is destined for lasting importance. Her book is a hymn to something that is both beautiful and fragile, a fervent prayer that we recognize it as such, and an eloquent plea for all humankind to cherish it.”
EO Wilson
"Authoritatively researched, clearly written, and beautifully illustrated, this book is best of its class."
Simon Winchesterauthor of Krakatoa and The Professor and the Madman
“Deborah Cramer’s achievement in creating this classic study of the world’s seas is destined for lasting importance. Her book is a hymn to something that is both beautiful and fragile, a fervent prayer that we recognize it as such, and an eloquent plea for all humankind to cherish it.”
Linda Learauthor of Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature
“Rachel Carson wrote the ocean’s biography for the 20th century, and DeborahCramer, with the same passion and meticulous research, has written it for the21st. This book is a remarkable achievement.”
Thomas E. LovejoyPresident
“This irresistible invitation to explore the ocean that gave birth to life itself,together with the imperative to know the living ocean and treat it with respect,should be in every home.”
Sylvia Earleoceanographer
"With poetic grace and deep scientific savvy, Deborah Cramer eloquentlyconveys the sweeping history of the Earth from fiery origin throughthe explosion of life in the sea to the present era of profound human impact.Whether you seek information or inspiration, this volume is a must."
Paul EpsteinCenter for Global Health and the Environment
“This elegant, lovingly written book immerses readers in the symbiosis between humanity and the sea. Deborah Cramer’s sweeping work introduces us to the ancestral ocean, on which human influence has now grown profound, and charges us to rejuvenate our essential partnership with its wondrous rhythms and life-giving waters.”
Michael SuttonVice President and Director
“Deborah Cramer has given us an eloquent life history of the ocean,natural and human, and rightly challenges us to exercise better stewardshipof the sea of the sea and leave a legacy of healthy oceans for our children.”
Simon Winchester
"Deborah Cramer’s achievement in creating this classic study of the world’s seas is destined for lasting importance. Her book is a hymn to something that is both beautiful and fragile, a fervent prayer that we recognize it as such, and an eloquent plea for all humankind to cherish it."
author of Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature - Linda Lear
"Rachel Carson wrote the ocean’s biography for the 20th century, and DeborahCramer, with the same passion and meticulous research, has written it for the21st. This book is a remarkable achievement."
President - Thomas E. Lovejoy
"This irresistible invitation to explore the ocean that gave birth to life itself,together with the imperative to know the living ocean and treat it with respect,should be in every home."
Center for Global Health and the Environment - Paul Epstein
"This elegant, lovingly written book immerses readers in the symbiosis between humanity and the sea. Deborah Cramer’s sweeping work introduces us to the ancestral ocean, on which human influence has now grown profound, and charges us to rejuvenate our essential partnership with its wondrous rhythms and life-giving waters."
Vice President and Director - Michael Sutton
"Deborah Cramer has given us an eloquent life history of the ocean,natural and human, and rightly challenges us to exercise better stewardshipof the sea of the sea and leave a legacy of healthy oceans for our children."
Library Journal

Commissioned as a companion to the National Museum of Natural History's new, permanent Ocean Hall, this book is much more than a souvenir. Beautifully and copiously illustrated and featuring extensive easy-to-understand, well-written text, it tells the full story of Earth's oceans, within which life developed and upon which all life still ultimately depends. Cramer (Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage) follows a time line from the beginnings of the earth to the present day and explains what we must do to preserve the ocean's resources. Twenty-eight ocean and themed maps (including coral reefs and hydrothermal vents) are included; the bibliography lists both journal articles and books and is extensive enough to keep an interested reader busy for years. The broad scope and natural history viewpoint make this a more valuable library addition than other recent books, which have been coffee-table sized and narrower in approach (e.g., Laurent Ballesta and Pierre Descamp's Planet Ocean). Cramer's book would make a great reading assignment for the evolution unit in a high school biology course or for an earth sciences course. Recommended for high school and public libraries.
—Margaret Rioux

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061343834
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/7/2008
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 524,405
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Cramer writes about science, nature, and the environment. Currently a visiting scholar at MIT's Earth System Initiative, she is the author of Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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