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The Ocean of Life

One of the world’s most prominent and articulate marine scientists gives us an updated, comprehensive, and engaging account of the ongoing crisis beneath the waves.

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The Ocean of Life:
The Fate of Man and The Sea
By Callum Roberts
Viking
416 pp.

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That the world’s oceans are in crisis shouldn’t be news to anyone, but it probably is.

Over the past 15 years, several authors – myself included – have written on the multifaceted disaster unfolding beneath the waves. Boneheaded fishing practices; shortsighted coastal development policies; the mass dumping of pollutants, plastics, and fertilizers into ocean-bound rivers; and climate change have – in a geological blink of the eye – impoverished the seas just when we need their living resources the most.

It’s a global crisis of profound significance to life on this planet. Yet because it is taking place largely out of sight and, thus, out of most people’s minds, it hasn’t received nearly the attention it requires from the public and governments alike. There have been constructive measures taken – particularly in this country – but without broader public awareness of what’s happening and what’s at stake, even sympathetic political leaders are unlikely to give the oceans the attention they deserve.

Thankfully, one of the world’s most prominent and articulate marine scientists is taking his turn at bat. In The Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts – professor of marine conservation at the University of York in the United Kingdom – gives us an updated, comprehensive, and engaging account of the ongoing crisis beneath the waves, and how we humans can turn the situation around. Despite the frightening litany of problems facing the seas, Roberts is optimistic that we can and will mend our ways so that marine resources will be there to help support planet Earth in the year 2050, when it will have nine to ten billion people living on it.

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