The Oceans

A Deep History

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Climate Change -

Eelco J. Rohling Prince­ton Univer­sity Press (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $29.95 (264pp), 978-0-691-16891-3

Cov­er­ing the in­cep­tion of the earth to the modern day, The Oceans com­pre­hen­sively de­scribes the devel­op­ment and many epochs of the ocean. These in­clude the ma­jor ex­tinc­tion events, the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the oceans and plan­e­tary tem­per­a­ture through­out history, how ge­ol­ogy plays in, and how life has af­fected the oceans. The re­sult is a grand tour of the earth’s history, mind-bog­glingly large and com­plex as it is. The fi­nal chap­ter and epi­logue deal with hu­man­caused cli­mate change.

The Oceans is ex­tremely thor­ough, ap­pro­pri­ately so for a topic of such pro­fun­dity. The book also cov­ers a tremen­dous amount of ground with dizzy­ing speed. It is billed as a lay­man-friendly in­tro­duc­tion to the ocean, and, con­sid­er­ing the vast­ness of the topic, this may in­deed be the clos­est ap­prox­i­ma­tion to such a thing. But the sheer amount of in­for­ma­tion packed into its pages makes this a sig­nif­i­cant first plunge for new­com­ers and ca­sual read­ers. The ideal au­di­ence for this book is de­cid­edly aca­demic.

The Oceans suc­cess­fully con­veys the con­cepts of age and scale that the oceans of the earth rep­re­sent, as well as their ex­tremely valu­able na­ture as a re­source, while putting hu­man ac­tiv­ity in con­text in a way that many other books about cli­mate change fail to achieve. Ty­ing in much of the rest of earth sci­ence pro­motes an un­usu­ally ro­bust ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the scale of the planet’s nat­u­ral rhythms and sys­tems. The ex­am­i­na­tion of cli­mate change as it re­lates to the oceans will present both ex­perts and non­ex­perts with a new per­spec­tive on how car­bon in­ter­acts with and af­fects ma­rine en­vi­ron­ments.

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