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Volume 24, Number 7 -- January 2014

Book Reviews: A Bleak Forecast from the Frontlines of Fishery Management

Callum Roberts. The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and The Sea. Viking Penguin (USA), 2013. 350 pages plus appendices, notes, and index.

Callum Roberts is one of the world’s great fisheries biologists. More than that, he’s a terrific writer, capable of translating the scientist’s abstruse formulas into compelling, even heartbreaking prose.

And his message of what humans must now do – emphasizing now – to address the formidable challenges to the very survival of life as we know it is one that should be heeded by anyone having a stake in the outcome. Which is, of course, to say every last fish-eater, carbon-emitter, and plastics-user among us.

* * *

The Great Barrier Reef: Can It Survive?


Iain McCalman. The Reef: A Passionate History. Viking Penguin, 2013 (Australia). 341 pages plus notes, bibliography, acknowledgements, index.

If you haven’t been to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, now might be a good time to start planning your visit. Unless something is done to stop loading the oceans with carbon dioxide, the reef will dissolve, like “a giant antacid tablet.”

Charlie Veron, a scientist who has devoted his life to studying the GBR and other reef systems across the globe, made the warning in his 2008 book A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End. Iain McCalman, a historian at the University of Sydney, relies heavily on Veron’s science in his more recent work, which tells the distressing history of the reef from the near-disastrous voyage of Captain Cook through its shoals in 1770 up to the present.

Patricia Tummons


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Article Keywords

environment hawaii book review callum roberts ocean of life iain mccalman the great barrier reef can it survive overfishing ocean acidification dredging history climate change global warming
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