Saturday, June 15, 2013

What is Brian Fagan reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Brian Fagan, author of The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels.

His entry begins:
I spend a great deal of time reading dreary, impossibly narrow and dull academic literature, so I relax by reading a wide range of non-fiction. For some reason, fiction has limited appeal for me, except for the immortal writings of the English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, which never pale. The task of choosing interesting non-fiction gets ever more arduous, given the tidal wave of (often mediocre) newly published works on every subject imaginable. But here are some of my favorites.

Some months ago, I was asked to review Jeffrey Bolster’s The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail. The author is a sailor and a fisherman, who has been out there and done it, so his account of cod fisheries and overfishing is truly authoritative. He makes the case that overfishing has afflicted the North Atlantic fisheries from the very beginnings of the lucrative European cod trade, fueled by Catholic doctrines that one ate fish on Fridays and Holy Days. This is a...[read on]
About The Attacking Ocean, from the publisher:
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.
Learn more about the book and author at Brian Fagan's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fagan's The Great Warming.

The Page 99 Test: The Attacking Ocean.

Writers Read: Brian Fagan.

--Marshal Zeringue