The Attacking Ocean
The Attacking Ocean
The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels
By Brian Fagan
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781608196920, 265pp.
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
The past fifteen thousand years--the entire span of human civilization--have witnessed dramatic sea level changes, which began with rapid global warming at the end of the Ice Age, when sea levels were more than 700 feet below modern levels. Over the next eleven millennia, the oceans climbed in fits and starts. These rapid changes had little effect on those humans who experienced them, partly because there were so few people on earth, and also because they were able to adjust readily to new coastlines.
Global sea levels stabilized about six thousand years ago except for local adjustments that caused often quite significant changes to places like the Nile Delta. So the curve of inexorably rising seas flattened out as urban civilizations developed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and South Asia. The earth's population boomed, quintupling from the time of Christ to the Industrial Revolution. The threat from the oceans increased with our crowding along shores to live, fish, and trade.
Since 1860, the world has warmed significantly and the ocean's climb has speeded. The sea level changes are cumulative and gradual; no one knows when they will end. "The Attacking Ocean," from celebrated author Brian Fagan, tells a tale of the rising complexity of the relationship between humans and the sea at their doorsteps, a complexity created not by the oceans, which have changed but little. What has changed is us, and the number of us on earth.
"In The Attacking Ocean, Brian Fagan has written an urgent and compelling narrative of the impact of rising sea levels on human societies. His brilliant insights, derived from geography, archaeology and history, are the product of a lifetime of scholarly research and deep reflection. This masterly account’s extraordinary lessons should impel his readers to consider how they may contribute to meeting the challenges of global climatic changes.”—Dr. Andrew M.T. Moore, First Vice President, Archaeological Institute of America, former Dean of Liberal Arts, former Dean of Graduate Studies, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, Rochester Institute of Technology
“Global warming, if not the most researched issue of our time, is the most pressing and persistently discussed. The Attacking Ocean stands out as justifiably alarming, with some 200 million people residing at elevations of less than five meters above sea level. As the most accomplished and articulate of archaeologists and science writers addressing the many facets of the climate debate, Brian Fagan again critically and without hyperbole states our anticipated future.”—Vernon Scarborough, Charles P. Taft Professor and Distinguished Research Professor, University of Cincinnati and author of The Flow of Power "A fascinating history of the sea's impact on human societies over the last 15,000 years as sea level rose since the last Ice Age. Rich in the kind of details that only an archaeologist of Fagan's caliber can bring to the subject, he pays special attention to the increasing vulnerability of societies as they evolved over this same time period."—Bruce Parker, author of The Power of the Sea“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.”—Library Journal
“Fascinating, if occasionally unnerving…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.”—Booklist
“The author’s vision and knowledge substantiate his clearly expressed concerns.”—Kirkus Reviews“In The Attacking Ocean, Brian Fagan provides—miraculously in a mere six paragraphs—the best description yet of Hurricane Sandy, the super-storm that blasted coastal New Jersey and New York last October… Not only are we unprepared for [the] future, Fagan argues, “it’s questionable just how much most of us think about it.” Which is why people like Fagan write what they write and environmentalists issue the warnings they do: they want us to wake up and take action.”—The Daily Beast