OCEAN'S END by Colin Woodard


Travels Through Endangered Seas
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A state-of-the-marine-environment message from journalist Woodard (Christian Science Monitor), in which the mood is dark

and the tidings grim.

Every large body of water is another chapter in a global "cautionary tale of what can happen when marine environments

are treated with reckless abandon," writes Woodard. He presents us with a catalog of the ills visited upon great waters by human

agents: there is, for example, the matter of overfishing and the habitat degradation that has winnowed fish stocks to bare bones,

leaving almost no cod at all where once you could practically walk across their backs from the Faeroes to Newfoundland. There

is the "toxic deluge from a thousand factories, power plants, and paper mills" that gags the mighty Mississippi; there are the

grotesque consequences of nuclear testing and the subsequent cultural aftershocks that plague the Pacific archipelagoes. For sheer

ham-fisted abuse, however, it would be hard to find better poster children than the Danube and the Black Sea (a rank sewer that

would be better called the Dead Sea, if there weren't already one—or a hundred—of those). Woodard wisely airs the positions

of the naysayers—who claim that fish stocks are naturally in flux and that the same goes for climatic change—and this gives both

a balance to his closely argued case and a sense of humility before all that is genuinely not understood about oceanic processes.

He also tenders a score of sensible prescriptive measures (which others might call pipe dreams): reducing government subsidies

for fishing vessels, changing our fundamental appreciation of the oceans and seas (and their fragility), and encouraging a global

problem-solving approach (since shorelines, whether they know it or not, serve as political boundaries).

Woodard's quietly passionate and focused presentation leaves little doubt about the gravity of the water world’s ecological

crisis. (Illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-465-01570-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2000


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