Smithsonian Ocean : Our water, our world

Author(s): Deborah Cramer

Science

"Smithsonian Ocean" was commissioned especially for the Museum but it is much more than a companion volume. Deborah Cramer, one of the country's most celebrated science writers (frequently compared to Rachel Carson) has written an engaging and perspective-changing history of the ocean. Her text is gorgeously illustrated. For more than three and a half billion years, the ocean has been Earth's lifeline. Life was spawned in the sea. The ocean sheltered Earth's first plants and animals, and created an environment where walking fish could come ashore. Climate changes wrought by the sea created evolutionary pathways for mammals, and gave rise to our human ancestors. The sea still sustains us.Rushing currents supply water to the atmosphere's protective greenhouse (without which the planet would freeze) and send rain to dry land, making our lives possible. Ever since the first rain fell to fill the first sea, opening and closing oceans have been essential to life on Earth. Yet, even as we are realizing how vast the sea's realm, how complex and wondrous its workings, how rich and diverse its inhabitants - with discovery upon discovery unpredicted and unimagined - we are redesigning it. 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 theforces 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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"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." -- Paul EpsteinCenter for Global Health and the Environment, Harvard Medical School

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General Fields

  • : 9780061343834
  • : harcol
  • : harcol
  • : 1.837
  • : September 2008
  • : 279mm X 229mm X 30mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Deborah Cramer
  • : Hardback
  • : 578.77
  • : 288
  • : illustrations