Reviews for Attacking Ocean : The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels

Book News Reviews
A history of climate change describes the dramatic evolution and stabilization of the oceans before the rise of humans approximately 6,000 years ago, tracing a significant rise in global temperatures since 1860 and how a rising sea level is affecting world populations. By the best-selling author of The Great Warming.

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #1
Given the recent widespread alarms about global warming, any added anxiety on the part of coastline residents about rising sea levels is entirely understandable, especially when most pessimistic scenarios put the extra elevation at three feet by this century's end. In this fascinating, if occasionally unnerving, overview of the long and tempestuous relationship between shore-hugging cities and their neighboring oceans, best-selling author and anthropology professor Fagan (Beyond the Blue Horizon, 2012) charts coastline measurements as far back as 15,000 years ago, when watery disasters at sparsely settled seaside villages were rare. Today, with major population centers clustering near harbors and beaches, superstorms like last year's East Coast-ravaging Hurricane Sandy, which Fagan points to as a prime example of modern society's vulnerability, are far more devastating. In three absorbing, well-crafted sections, the author recounts some notable past storm surges and tsunamis, and predicts likely damages from future ocean-borne disasters. More than just another nervous admonition about climate change, Fagan's account relies on hard data to warn cities and governments worldwide to act now and forestall otherwise inevitable catastrophic flooding. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Choice Reviews 2014 February
Using scientific research, historical records, and speculative re-creation of everyday life, Fagan (emer., anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Elixir, CH, Sep'12, 50-0250; The Complete Ice Age, CH, Mar'10, 47-3821) presents an overview of the effect of sea-level changes on coastal societies. By choosing to emphasize known events, he focuses on storm surges, coastal flooding, and tsunamis. However, he does not adequately explain these phenomena to his readers. He covers coastal, delta, estuarine, and island environments at a global scale from prehistory to the present. His target audience seems to be general readers, and he provides annotated bibliographies for each chapter. Occasionally he wanders far afield to detail Jomon society (Japan) food and hunting customs or the environmental degradation of the Nile Delta in ancient times due to poor land use practices. Fagan avoids environmental determinism by recounting how societies have adapted to the pressures of sea-level rise or storm-generated flooding. He notes that post-Ice Age cultures were generally able to move to higher ground or relocate altogether. With today's heavily populated coastal areas, those strategies are unworkable. As global warming gradually lifts sea levels, the world's vulnerability to storm events requires different actions. Summing Up: Optional. General readers. General Readers. L. S. Zipp formerly, State University of New York College at Geneseo Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
Fagan (Emeritus, Anthropology; Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans, 2012, etc.) provides his assessment of rising sea levels. The author believes that man has about 50 years to change his ways and either adopt a long-term commitment to investing in the engineering skills and projects that can provide protection against the rise of the seas or relocate tens of millions of threatened people to higher ground. Fagan reviews both the long-term effect of very small annual rises and the more immediately disastrous results of tsunamis, hurricanes and typhoons. He shows how, at the end of the last Ice Age, when water levels were more than 400 feet below where they are now, a gradual rise accompanied the warming trend over more than 4,000 years. These effects, as well as his imaginative reconstructions of their consequences on the human communities of the time--e.g., Doggerland in the English Channel--provide a standpoint from which to consider the warming trend and ocean rise that began to set in again since the Industrial Revolution. Fagan draws on evidence from geology, archaeology and anthropology to support his case. The Netherlands, with their historical record of land reclamation and fortification against the seas, provides an example of the longer-term policy shift and commitment that needs to be made globally. These are multigenerational commitments that require continual upgrading, maintenance and the practical understanding that long-term physical processes are under way that won't be reversed by adopting carbon taxes and lowering fuel consumption--measures that are necessary but insufficient. The author's vision and knowledge substantiate his clearly expressed concerns. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 January #1

Emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, best-selling author Fagan gives a history of surging ocean levels over the last 15,000 years. Don't we know.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 April #2

With global warming comes also a gradually perceptible rise in worldwide sea levels. Fagan, (anthropology, emeritus, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; The Great Warming) focuses on the history of global sea-level fluctuations from the end of the last Ice Age to the present, explaining that during the Ice Age, global sea levels were far lower than today. Their inexorable rise owing to the melting of the great glacial ice sheets caused frequent prehistoric population movements as territories were abandoned to the rising waters. While sea levels became fairly stable around 6,000 years ago, many local fluctuations have taken place since then. Fagan masterfully documents these and their effects on populations in areas as diverse as the Netherlands, the eastern Mediterranean, India, Bangladesh, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, and North America. His examples of historical floods, storm surges, and tsunamis effectively demonstrate the sea's destructive power and its potential to devastate low-lying parts of the world. VERDICT A fascinating, accessible examination of global climate change and the effect of the world's oceans on human populations over millennia. This thought-provoking work is bound to be popular with readers of Fagan's previous books as well as those interested in anthropology, archaeology, climate change, and global warming.--Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Univ. Lib., Westerville, OH

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Library Journal Reviews 2015 June #1

Beginning with the Ice Age, Fagan explores how the fluctuation in sea levels over time has impacted societies in such places as Bangladesh, Japan, and the Mediterranean. Past events set the context for the current rise in sea levels as ice sheets melt and what that foreshadows as populations are forced to migrate when the land they previously occupied disappears underwater. (LJ 4/15/13)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 February #3

Data pulled from a diverse base of geological studies, archaeological finds, historical documentation, and modern reporting ground this broad and accessible survey of the interaction between rising sea levels and humanity over the past 9,000 years. Fagan, an emeritus professor of anthropology at U.C. Santa Barbara, explains that since the dawn of human society, people have struggled to reconcile the ocean's value with its destructiveness, yet he argues that the modern tendency to build dense metropolises in coastal areas leaves us "vulnerable to the ocean and its whims in ways unimaginable even one or two centuries ago," and creates situations where one-time disasters like Hurricane Sandy and chronic issues like rising sea levels in Bangladesh lead to environmental refugee crises, "not as an abstract problem for the future, but as a sobering reality." Alternate tables of contents allow readers to explore the material chronologically or geographically, and each chapter is both self-contained and intimately connected to the grander narrative. Fagan (Cro-Magnon) compellingly urges individuals and governments to realize that the rising sea level is an increasingly urgent problem, and the development of sustainable solutions should be at the forefront of public discourse. Unlike our less populous ancestors, we no longer have the luxury of simply moving to higher ground. Agent: Susan Rabiner, Susan Rabiner Literary Agency, Inc. (June)

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