What will happen to jellies, orcas, sea turtles, tuna, corals, and blue-green algae in the “New Ocean” of the future?
Opening with the premise that global warming, pollution, acidification, and overfishing are dramatically and permanently changing the ocean—perhaps back to a primal sea—the author then considers the fates of six species, each one discussed in two double-page spreads that pair a substantial column of text on verso to a painting on recto that crosses the gutter. On the first spread, readers find a short description and bulleted facts and then, on the next spread, a column of dire prediction: jellies will flourish, devouring baby fish; orcas are already dying young in poisoned waters and in captivity; turtles are killed by oil-well accidents, litter, and fishing nets; tuna have been overfished and are full of poisonous mercury; coral bleaches and dies in too-warm, acidic, polluted waters; and blue-green algae will also flourish, especially a poisonous one called fireweed. The New Ocean will be oxygen-poor and could cause another mass extinction. These bleak forecasts are accompanied by Barnard’s beautiful oil paintings of sea creatures. His information is not inaccurate; his explanations are clear; the future he envisages is one of many possibilities. On a final spread he offers some suggestions for drastic public measures, personal actions, and an example of a teen invention, not enough to offset the gloomy aftertaste this warning is likely to leave in readers.
Only for readers old enough to handle the idea of environmental catastrophe. (sources, glossary) (Nonfiction. 11-14)