Sci­en­tists on the Brink

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Barry Silverstein

Irus Braver­man, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Press (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $26.95 (344pp) 978-0-520-29885-9

An ex­haus­tive sci­en­tific re­port on the health of the coral reefs, shown to be crit­i­cally im­por­tant to the earth’s fu­ture, Coral Whis­per­ers draws upon years of re­search.

Through her in-depth in­ter­views with one hun­dred coral sci­en­tists and man­agers, Irus Braver­man de­vel­oped a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for corals, the role they play in the ocean’s bal­ance, and the as­sault they face from hu­man be­ings and cli­mate change. This book is the com­pelling story of corals and the sci­en­tists who work to pro­tect them.

The book deftly traces the evo­lu­tion of the coral (an an­i­mal), ex­plains the sci­ence be­hind it, and demon­strates the en­vi­ron­men­tal per­ils that can cause it to bleach out and die. It doc­u­ments the “pen­du­lum” that swings back and forth be­tween hope and de­spair. This as­pect of Coral Whis­per­ers is es­pe­cially in­trigu­ing, since it bears wit­ness to the gut-wrench­ing dilemma faced by coral sci­en­tists, sev­eral of whom speak of it in con­sciously con­tra­dic­tory terms. As Braver­man ob­serves, the same sci­en­tists who study the demise of corals seek out new meth­ods of sav­ing them from peril.

One of the more sober­ing points raised in this eye-open­ing assess­ment is the re­al­ity that sci­en­tists, trained to be ob­jec­tive and dis­pas­sion­ate, must now “con­vey the mes­sage of corals to the rest of the world” in or­der to make their plight widely un­der­stood. Its ex­ten­sive in­ter­views with sci­en­tists show that they are hu­man be­ings who have an emo­tional con­nec­tion to the corals.

Coral Whis­per­ers is ex­cep­tional in its sci­en­tific de­tail but also in re­lat­ing the per­sonal sto­ries of the sci­en­tists, or “whis­per­ers,” who fol­low the lives of corals and in­vest their own lives in striv­ing to pre­serve them. Just as im­por­tant, the book is a stern warn­ing that the earth’s oceans are in grave dan­ger.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.