Friday, July 11, 2008

worthy reads

I’m reading a couple of books just now: ‘Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans’, by Sylvia Earle, and ‘The World Without Us’ by Alan Weisman. ‘Sea Change’ is part memoir, part natural history, part warning about what we are doing to the world’s oceans. Full of beautiful descriptions of sea creatures from Humpback whales to the bioluminescence of millions of krill, Earle fills you with the beauty in the first part and then delivers a strong message of what we are doing, exactly, to Humpbacks and krill in the second. Having lived almost all my life near the coast watching sea water – slate grey, black brown, green, turquoise blue, lap against shores – boulders, shingle, shells, red, black or white sand, I’ve had the greatest respect for the ocean, and a total ignorance of what really happens below those waters. With Earle’s book, and I just finished, ‘Underwater to get out of the Rain’ by Trevor Norton, I’m learning a little more and becoming increasingly convinced about what we have to do to keep our world a livable environment.
I’m re-reading ‘The World Without Us’. This is a brilliant ecology book. It delves into what would happen if humans were to suddenly and completely disappear. Thus it takes a very serious, and potentially incredibly depressing subject – what we are doing to our planet, and works backwards, outlining the way nature would rebalance the environment. It’s a fascinating read and while it delivers a powerful illustration of how, especially in the last 50 years or so, we have really damaged the planet, it’s written with such affection for both humanity and nature that one feels that recovery is not only possible, but probable. I really believe that this book should be required reading in every 10th grade class. And again in every University.