Take a pristine coral reef off the mangrove-forested coast of Belize, one that draws a handsome roster of fish and other sea creatures--and, therefore, a complement of scuba divers, sports fishermen, photographers, and other consumers of nature. Add an airstrip to serve these cash customers, then a hotel, then a seawall, then a golf course, then a desalination plant. In no time, thanks to the changes you've wrought on the coastal ecology, you'll have a dead reef in a dead patch of sea.
Such wanton destruction is the norm for today, writes science journalist Colin Woodard, who debarks from his travels on the world's seas with depressing and unremittingly bad news. One of the victims is the Black Sea of Eurasia, once a thriving extension of the Atlantic, now all but destroyed by "overfishing, oil spills, industrial discharges, nutrient pollution, wetlands destruction," and other ills. The ravaged Black Sea is mirrored in other places to which Woodard travels: the South Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, the Antarctic. In such places significant ecological transformations are occurring, all in a very short period of time, all perhaps irreversible, all certainly dangerous to the health of the biosphere. "The oceans," Woodard urges his readers to consider, "are finite and destructible. Wastes dumped and drained into the ocean do not disappear; they are neither economic nor ecological externalities. Likewise, marine fish and animals are not commodities like iron, wheat, or broilers; they are wildlife." Adding to works such as Carl Safina's Song for the Blue Ocean, Woodard makes a clear and urgent call for the reversal of all this destruction and for the protection of the world's waters. --Gregory McNamee
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"[Woodard] successfully brings to life the fascinating mysteries of marine science [and] outlines strategies that, he contends, must be taken to save our seas."-Publishers Weekly. The Black Sea is already dead. Because of sea-level rise, an entire nation in the South Pacific, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is being washed away. Throughout the Caribbean Sea, vast stretches of coral reef-called the "rainforests of the ocean" because of their diversity of life-are dying at increasingly rapid rates. The reefs along the entire north coast of Jamaica are dead. Ocean's End is not about the damage our oceans could suffer (and inflict) in ten or a hundred years, if we're not careful. It's an eyewitness account, in compelling and vivid detail, of the massive worldwide destruction that's already happened.