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Ocean of Life [Kindle Edition]

Callum Roberts
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this revelatory book, Callum Roberts uses his lifetime's experience working with the oceans to show why they are the most mysterious places on earth, their depths still largely unexplored. In The Ocean of Life we get a panoramic tour beneath the seas: Why do currents circulate the way do? Where exactly do they go? How has the chemistry of the oceans changed? How polluted are we making them? Above all, Roberts reveals the richness of their life, and how it has altered over the centuries.



The oceans are now under unprecedented threat. Not only does Roberts show how we are fishing our oceans to extinction, crucially, he explains how this directly affects our lives on land. Ninety-five percent of habitable space on earth lies in the oceans, and marine plants produce half the world's oxygen; the oceans themselves absorb vast quantities of carbon dioxide. The life they support is now in the balance.



The Ocean of Life should galvanise debate worldwide. Roberts shows how we can arrest and reverse the damage we are doing. Tantalisingly, it is within our grasp to restore the life of the oceans. There is still time.



Editorial Reviews

Review

Those of us who worry about the future of our oceans could do a lot worse than take up this single refrain, "Listen to Callum Roberts!". Shouted in the ears of the world's leaders, it might just make a difference. Meanwhile we should all read Ocean of Life, a thrilling narrative of oceanic natural history and a vital call to action -- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Authoritative and furious ... a grand survey ... impossible to ignore ... Ocean of Life is the sort of book that inspires you to get in touch with your MP. It is elegantly written, at times overwhelming and depressing, but generally urgent and persuasive. Informed citizens of our watery planet should read it -- Brian Schofield Sunday Times At the heart of this book is a deep love of the ocean and a profound concern for its viability as a resource for us all ... A story told with both scientific accuracy and narrative skill ... Roberts's clear, well-written accounts give us access to vast amounts of scientific information ... each chapter is edged with fascinating details about the life of the sea -- Stephen R Palumbi Nature The urgency of Callum Roberts' message - that we have very little time to save the oceanic environment on which our existence depends - is in no way undermined by the entertaining and brilliantly-written nature of his writing. This is simply a fascinating book, taking in everything from the elemental formations of the oceans to the denizens that inhabit them; from minute plankton to the great whales - and everything that threatens them, and us. Roberts imparts his vast knowledge with a consummate talent for colourful narrative and devastating facts. His book will be required reading for anyone who cares about the oceans - not least because, as well as underlining the scale of the problems, he offers us the hope of real solutions -- Philip Hoare, Author Of 'leviathan Or, The Whale' Ocean of Life is an excellent and engrossing work. Mr. Roberts, a British professor of marine conservation, has corralled an astonishing collection of scientific discovery ... I hope a great many people-particularly those in that undecided middle-read this book -- G. Bruce Knecht Wall Street Journal Callum Roberts has done it again. From showing us the past with the wisdom of a Dickens character in his earlier book, he now leads us toward the future in The Ocean of Life. It's a book so fine, I wish I'd written it! -- Carl Safina, Author Of 'song For The Blue Ocean' And 'the View From Lazy Point' - An engrossing survey of the relationship between man and the sea for readers living through the greatest environmental changes in 65 million years ... Roberts's meditation will have readers gasping aloud with wonder, even as the sobering truth of humans' profound interdependence with the sea provokes concern -- Starred Review Publisher's Weekly An impressive history of the oceans ... one of this book's strengths is the many solutions Roberts outlines to reverse the dismal state of the seas -- Pilita Clark Financial Times There is a dearth of good and comprehensive books on a subject that can seem too complicated and depressing for any single tome. Callum Roberts has now provided one ... there is no quibbling with the evidence of marine horrors that Mr Roberts presents The Economist It's probably a bit too soon to start talking about candidates for books of the year. But Callum Roberts' latest offering should already be considered a strong contender. Roberts is that precious pearl: a practising scientist who not only knows his field inside out, but also understands how to write compelling, persuasive non-fiction -- Leo Hickman Guardian

About the Author

Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. For the last 10 years he has campaigned for stronger protection for the sea at national and international levels, including advising the United Nations, European Commission and the European Parliament. He was on the WWF-US National Council for six years and currently serves as a Council Member of Fauna and Flora International, a Board Member of Seaweb and a WWF-UK Ambassador. Callum's first book The Unnatural History of the Sea won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Prize, and was named by The Washington Post as one of the Best 10 Books of the Year.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6755 KB
  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (May 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007TB5M24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calls attention to our imperiled oceans June 9, 2012
By JYK
Format:Hardcover
As a concerned person about the state of our environment, I try to learn about the problems and what we can do to solve them. If Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans focused on the destruction caused by the everyday plastic we throw away, 'The Ocean of Life' takes a more comprehensive view to the problems that are rapidly killing the oceanic ecosystem, from overfishing to plastics to pollution (e.g. oil spill). In a scientific and balanced tone, Professor Roberts does not demonize one or the other but reminds us that we are all culpable through our daily, careless actions that have damaging consequences on the marine life. Our insatiable appetite for fish that is depleting the marine stock; the noises from boats and submarines that are damaging to whales and dolphins; the plastics that flow into the oceans and killing birds, fish, and mammals alike; the Chinese appetite for shark fin soup that is rapidly killing sharks in a most agonizing manner; and, of course, the diseases that are rapidly killing the coral reefs and casting a dark shadow over the marine ecosystem. If things seem bleak, it's because they are unless we drastically change our ways and make some sacrifices. I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning more about the environmental issues pertaining to the oceans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'There is a tide in the affairs of men...' July 25, 2012
Format:Hardcover
In this book, Callum Roberts sets out to argue the case that man is damaging the oceans of the world in ways that may be irreversible if not addressed quickly and determinedly.

Roberts starts with a history of the oceans since the planet was formed, showing how previous episodes of warming, changes in acidity levels etc. have had huge effects on the animals that live there. He then gives a very detailed account, (perhaps a little over-detailed in parts) of the history of man's interaction with the sea, through fishing, shipping and pollution amongst other things. As he piles detail on detail, his argument that we are causing major and probably irreversible damage is completely convincing and thoroughly depressing. Some of the images he provides, of mass piles of discarded plastic gathering in the ocean gyres, of dead zones caused by chemical pollution, of coral reefs bleaching and dying, of life at the bottom of the seas being destroyed by trawling, are stark and horrifying. Of course we knew all this, but Roberts pulls it all together for us and shows us the consequences, so that no-one reading this book could be left feeling that this is a problem that can continue to be ignored.

It is only in the last couple of chapters that Roberts offers solutions and not unsurprisingly these are fairly straightforward - to set up protection zones, to reduce the flow of chemicals and rubbish into the seas, to combat global warming. Straightforward but not easy, though Roberts also gives examples of some major advances that have been made over the last decade or so. (Who would have expected George Dubya to come out of a book like this as one of the heroes? Apparently he set up huge protected zones before he left office.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This was a very well written but sobering read about the current state of our oceans. So many problems; pollution, over-fishing, bad fishing practices (such as long lines and dredging), climate change, nitrogen laden "dead zones" in the oceans and bays, destruction of salt marsh and wetland habitats, soil erosion, dams, all these topics are covered in great detail and in a very interesting and enlightening way. Despite all the negatives and the fact that our oceans and waters are very much in real trouble, the author does offer solutions in the second half of the book and surprisingly is able to keep a reasonably optimistic tone. There are ways to maintain sustainable fisheries, provide energy in a way that will not contribute to our already too warm world, protect and restore marine habitats (such as coral reefs), prevent and clear our ocean's dead zones, and restore some of the diversity and abundance we so desperately need in this and really any ecosystem. There are two appendices included which offer ways to eat seafood in a manner that will protect our oceans from further damage and also a great list of conservation organizations working to protect and restore oceans and waterways. Overall this was a fascinating read and while sobering it did offer me some optimism that it is not too late to do something. We just need to start acting on an individual level because a lot of little squeaks together can make a big noise.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Informative - Urgent Call for Action July 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover
First of all this book is long and content dense. It is not light reading. It is written in a passionate tone at times but it comes at the subject from a very factual and scientific approach. In contrast I recently read In Pursuit of Giants: One Man's Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish and while written from a conservation perspective it is much more of an adventure in story telling. Both books have their place. If you are looking for detailed information then this book is for you.

The book starts with a excellent description of how the seas evolved and then follows up with several chapters detailing the devastating impact of global warming on the worlds oceans. It includes the devastating impacts of over fishing and the the horrible destruction left behind by modern methods of fishing. There are depressing chapters on pollution and the introduction of invasive species that wipe out native stocks.

The second part of the the book (and the shorter part) is more optimistic and provides guidelines on what we can do as individuals and as groups to slow and even reverse the problems. Despite the overall negative tone of the book I found this section provides some reason for hope.

This book includes Amazon's "Search Inside" feature and there are is a lot of material available for preview. Please take advantage of that.

Overall this is an excellent resource. It's not beach reading but it is an important topic if you want to enjoy the beach in the future. The author's thesis is very well supported. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gave a gift.
Published 2 months ago by Dorothy P. Rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive ocean book
This erudite,well written history of our oceans and our interaction with the sea and its creatures was informative,compelling,worrying and ultimately guarded optimistic. Read more
Published 3 months ago by stephen Titus
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the Curious - Oceanography
Very interesting points brought up and an easy read for someone like myself who is interested in oceanography, but has no background or formal education in the topic.
Published 4 months ago by Lauren
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
read it and read it thoroughly.
it is the fate that will befall us all...
Published 5 months ago by andreibora
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a must fro everyone to read.
Published 6 months ago by Fiona Thyssen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview
I found this book an excellent overview of various environmental issues affecting our oceans. Well written and information presented in a manner that anyone can understand.
Published 8 months ago by P. Kast
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is excellent. I checked out the book from our public ...
The book is excellent. I checked out the book from our public library and found "The Ocean of Life" was such a good resource that I ordered a reference copy for myself... Read more
Published 8 months ago by John Kalafarski
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Very readable examination of the current status of the world's oceans and the impact of human activity on their health. Well-written and captivating.
Published 10 months ago by KA Welsh
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
A fascinating account. The importance of mangrove habitats, of sustainable fishing plans, of the sea as the foundation of our ecosystem is absorbing and compelling.
Published 11 months ago by Georgia Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Well written and very relevant in today's changing world! Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in the ocean and water resources.
Published 11 months ago by MegsStuff
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More About the Author

Callum Roberts is a marine scientist and conservationist at the University of York in England and author of The Unnatural History of the Sea. His book charts the effects of 1000 years of hunting and fishing on ocean life and won the 2008 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Callum's research has revealed the extraordinary rise and fall of fisheries over the last 200 years, but also shows how life can make a remarkable comeback after protection is granted. His team at York provided the scientific case for the world's first network of high seas marine reserves in the North Atlantic that in 2010 placed nearly 300,000km2 of ocean under protection. Callum works with many environmental charities and is a WWF UK Ambassador, trustee of Seaweb, Fauna and Flora International and Blue Marine Foundation, and advisor to Save our Seas. His next book, The Ocean of Life, explores how the oceans are changing under human influence and will be published in 2012.

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