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"The ocean is impossibly complicated, interconnected, turbulent, and non-linear, and it touches every part of life. Humans can only understand it by trying to grasp far simpler proxies. Such as: every tear you cry ends up back in the ocean system. Every third molecule of carbon dioxide you exhale is absorbed into the ocean. Every second breath you take comes from the oxygen produced by [the global ocean`s] plankton."

The above comes from the prologue of this stunningly informative book by newspaper journalist and environmental reporter Alanna Mitchell. (In the United States, this book is entitled "Seasick.")

Mitchell has written a book about the ocean. So! What's the big deal? Well, she has discovered that "the global ocean [is] in crisis" or is "sick." What's causing it to be sick? Answer: human activity.

If all life on land were to die, the ocean and all life in it would still thrive. But the reverse is not true. If all ocean life dies, life on land would die also.

Mitchell researched this book across five continents and over two and a half years. She "travelled from country to country, topic to topic, research boat to research boat" talking with many key scientists along the way. This book is a record of her adventures, observations, and what she has learned. It is well-written and easy to follow.

Mitchell joins the crews of leading scientists in nine of these global ocean`s hotspots:

(1) The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
(2) Gulf of Mexico, U.S.
(3) Puerto Rico, Caribbean
(4) Plymouth, England
(5) Panama, Central America
(6) Halifax, Canada
(7) Spain, Europe
(8) Hainan Province, China
(9) Zanzibar, Tanzania

When a person is sick, his or her vital signs are checked. Vital signs are indicators of the efficient functioning of the body (like pulse, temperature, and respiration). Mitchell checks on the following vital signs of the global ocean:

(1) temperature
(2) oxygen level
(3) pH (amount of acidity)
(4) metabolism (energy utilization)
(5) fecundity (fertility)
(6) life force
(7) medical history
(8) future excess
(9) adaptability

What did I learn after reading this book? Answer: the climate crisis seems to be more of an ocean crisis.

What impressed me about this book is the number of numerical facts Mitchell presents. For example:

"It took humans roughly 50,000 years to deplete the planet's large land animals, 5000 years to exhaust most of the planet's coastal environments, 500 years to fish out the continental shelf, 50 years to impoverish the open ocean, and about 5 years to run through the creatures of the deep ocean."

Finally, after reading Mitchell's book, I was amazed that she is still optimistic. Her last chapter is entitled "Finding hope."

In conclusion, this is an important book revealing facts and predictions about Earth's largest and most important habitat, the life-blood of planet Earth--the global ocean!!!

(first published 2009; prologue; 10 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 200 pages; select bibliography; acknowledgements; index)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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on November 1, 2009
Essential for the uninformed but lacks footnotes and reads too much like a travel log. This book should have been a soft cover, easy to carry and cheap enough to give to friends. It don't think the author had to travel the world to interview people on site. A thorough phone discussion would have brought the same results in a concise and more informative way. Also very emotionally affected by what she experienced fist hand, the author gets slightly sidetracked with describing the characters physical traits or situations irrelevant to the seriousness of the topic.
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on April 20, 2009
Alanna has the rare skill of being able to grasp sometimes arcane scientific data, translate it into layman's language into such a way that we're able to 'get' why it's important, and weave it into compelling stories of those who are being impacted directly and why you & I should care, as well as the stories of how she learned all of this. This book is an easy read, yet yielded a distinctly *un*easy queasiness in the pit of my stomach. As someone has been quoted, "you thought climate change was the problem -- actually, it's the ocean." {Yes, singular -- as she tells us there are not multiple oceans on the planet -- it's all one big, interconnected system.)
I highly recommend this book to all who are concerned about the state of our planetary life-support systems.
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on June 1, 2010
The author is providing the general public with a concise, thought provoking and extremely frightening sample of what is going on inside the world's oceans. I, personally, am hoping that more and more people are going to read this book, get informed and step outside their daily lives of driving, diapers, grocery shopping and cell phones and realize that we are IN a crisis situation, and we can not afford to look the other way anymore. The ocean is the foundation of life as we know it, and provides us, self absorbed humans, with oxygen. We quickly forget this when we get bogged down with modern life. Government and lay people need to understand and respect the ocean, and the life that lives in it. We need to change our attitudes immediately and there has to be a shift from being "takers" and "abusers" of the ocean environment to "conservationists." Mitchell is a beautiful and gifted writer/journalist, and I'm so happy and relieved that we have her to illuminate the magic and the mystery that is the ocean, and the fragile state it is presently in. It's time to act now, and taking that step to buy this book and get informed is the right step, and will get us and our government moving in a better direction.
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on March 8, 2009
This is a beautifully written book. It is approachable by anyone and will leave you with a very haunting understanding of how our oceans are changing and the potential impact on human existance.

Mitchell's book can now be considered to be one of the four pillars of required reading for those who really want to understand climate change. The other three are "The Weathermakers" by Tim Flannery, "The Economics of Climate Change" by Sir Nicholas Stern, and of course "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore.

This truly is a must read and it is so engaging, frank, and at some points truly disturbing in the import of its content, that you will not want to put it down. At the end of it I hope you will believe that you can become part of the solution and not wind up despairing for the human race.
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on May 2, 2015
Best environment book. It deserves 10 stars!! A must read for all who care about life. We can thank plankton for every second breath we take. If we continue to trash the ocean, there will be no more life on land. However, the ocean will thrive if there is no life on land. In other words, we need the ocean, but the ocean does not need us! Alanna educates us on the dire state of the planet with scientific facts and tells us how to stop our deadly path before it's too late. Please buy this book and get Corporations, Governments, high schools students, etc. to read it. Her message is too vital and must be spread quickly.
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on June 11, 2012
Yes, this is a great start for anyone who doesn't really know a whole lot about what exactly is going on in our oceans today and how climate change is affecting them. If you are already educated in the subject, you might not learn much, but Mitchell still has a great way of putting things into perspective. She has a poetic way of rousing one's emotions about the ocean. Throughout the book, she speaks as if the ocean is the mother of Earth, and all creatures (especially on land!) are here children. It is a touching "story" of hope, despair & guilt for the fate of our oceans (which I believe we all need a dose of).
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The lure of Mitchell's curiosity draws you to look, and not turn away. You follow her around, hanging on her questions to oceanographers, fisherfolk, or deep-sea submersible crews. What she finds is far worse than global warming. These changes in the oceans are so disturbing that facing the evidence can turn your stomach over. In exploring this beautiful but deeply endangered undersea universe, Mitchell assumes a vocation far beyond journalism. She quietly accepts being what none of us can escape being--one of the pilots of the whole starship, trying to see what survival requires.
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on June 16, 2009
As an environmentalist, educator and diver, this book hit me hard. The research, connections and information provided are powerful and need to be shared. This book is truly a 'call to action' for the human race and we need to make changes starting today in order to prevent our oceans (and subsequently our world) from rolling over to a 'new biology'. There is hope, but we must all work to realize it. Fantastic documentation of the oceans that the average person would be totally unaware of. Please read this book.
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on June 20, 2015
Humans cannot live if the ocean dice, and we are killing the ocean.
If Alanna Mitchell hasn't scared the hell out of you by the time you finish this book, then you haven't understood it. Go back and read it again.
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