Stung! : On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean


Stung! : On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean by Lisa-ann Gershwin

QL 377 .S4 G47 2013

“Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to life – growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the world’s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.

Recent documentaries about swarms of giant jellyfish invading Japanese fishing grounds and summertime headlines about armadas of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean and Chesapeake are only the beginning – jellyfish are truly taking over the oceans. Despite their often dazzling appearance, jellyfish are simple creatures with simple needs: namely, fewer predators and competitors, warmer waters to encourage rapid growth, and more places for their larvae to settle and grow. In general, oceans that are less favorable to fish are more favorable to jellyfish, and these are the very conditions that we are creating through mechanized trawling, habitat degradation, coastal construction, pollution, and climate change.

Despite their role as harbingers of marine destruction, jellyfish are truly enthralling creatures in their own right, and in Stung!, Gershwin tells stories of jellyfish both attractive and deadly while illuminating many interesting and unusual facts about their behaviors and environmental adaptations. She takes readers back to the Proterozoic era, when jellyfish were the top predator in the marine ecosystem – at a time when there were no fish, no mammals, and no turtles; and she explores the role jellies have as middlemen of destruction, moving swiftly into vulnerable ecosystems. The story of the jellyfish, as Gershwin makes clear, is also the story of the world’s oceans, and Stung! provides a unique and urgent look at their inseparable histories – and future.”
– publisher description


Secrets of the Ice

Secrets of the Ice

Secrets of the Ice: Antarctica’s Clues to Climate, the Universe, and the Limits of Life
by Veronika Meduna

QH 84.2 .M43 2012

“Antarctica is the only continent without permanent human habitation, yet it may hold the key to our survival. More than just a challenging frontier for exploration, Antarctica is now understood to be a crucial part of a global climate and environment. Each year hundreds of scientists travel to the bottom of the world to investigate the climate, examine the continent’s hardy life forms, and seek answers to far-reaching questions about the universe. In this engaging book, Veronika Meduna tells their stories and explains their dramatic discoveries.

In remote field camps and icy laboratories on the frozen continent, geologists and glaciologists learn about past temperatures and levels of greenhouse gases, and about the implications of today’s climate change for the future. Some scientists study migration patterns of emperor penguins and others focus on the antifreeze inside endemic fish species. Still others investigate the microbial “masters of survival” that may help to reveal how life evolved on Earth and what it may look like on other planets. In compelling, everyday language, Meduna provides a firsthand view of the wide range of scientific activity in Antarctica today along with fascinating portraits of the intrepid men and women conducting it. More than 150 stunning color photographs complete this arresting book.” – publisher description

On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

On a Farther ShoreOn a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder

QH 31 .C33 S68 2012

“She loved the ocean and wrote three books about its mysteries, including the international bestseller The Sea Around Us. But it was with her fourth book, Silent Spring, that this unassuming biologist transformed our relationship with the natural world.

Rachel Carson began work on Silent Spring in the late 1950s, when a dizzying array of synthetic pesticides had come into use. Leading this chemical onslaught was the insecticide DDT, whose inventor had won a Nobel Prize for its discovery. Effective against crop pests as well as insects that transmitted human diseases such as typhus and malaria, DDT had at first appeared safe. But as its use expanded, alarming reports surfaced of collateral damage to fish, birds, and other wildlife. Silent Spring was a chilling indictment of DDT and its effects, which were lasting, widespread, and lethal.

Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action – despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. By drawing frightening parallels between dangerous chemicals and the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing, Carson opened a fault line between the gentle ideal of conservation and the more urgent, new concept of environmentalism.

Elegantly written and meticulously researched, On a Farther Shore reveals a shy yet passionate woman more at home in the natural world than in the literary one that embraced her. William Souder also writes sensitively of Carson’s romantic friendship with Dorothy Freeman, and of Carson’s death from cancer in 1964. This extraordinary new biography captures the essence of one of the great reformers of the twentieth century.”
– publisher description

The Future of Water

The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead by Steve Maxwell with Scott Yates

HD 1691 .M38 2011

“Imagine for a moment that a giant asteroid is hurtling directly toward Earth and is certain to destroy us in ten years.  With an immediate and coordinated effort, however, scientists can develop technology to redirect or explode the asteroid before impact.  Wouldn’t the people of the world quickly agree to drop their differences and collectively find a way for the human race to survive?

We are rushing headlong into a global water crisis of equally calamitous proportions.  The dual threat of compromised water quality and water shortages amounts to one of the greatest challenges of our time.  This impending crisis may not have the sudden impact of the asteroid, but if a united effort to solve the problems is not forthcoming, the ultimate effect will be just as dire.

Fortunately, it is not too late to prevent a water disaster.  Find out what may be in store for us as author Steve Maxwell presents an incisive look at how water could be used, transported, and stored in and around our homes, in agriculture, and in industry.  Maxwell’s detailed take on the future describes how the actions of individuals, water utilities, industries, and even entire countries can positively alter the flow of water.  An insider’s view into the business side of water, Maxwell’s specialty, sheds light for investors and others on the future availability, cost, and true value of this previous resource, in the United States and throughout the world.”
– publisher description

Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future

Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future by Matthew E. Kahn

HT 241 .K338 2010

“Cities are the engines of economic growth and the foundation of our prosperity.  But what will become of them as our world gets hotter?  In Climatopolis, Matthew Kahn, one of the world’s foremost experts on the economics of the environment and of cities, argues that our future lies in our ability to adapt.  Cities and regions will slowly transform as we change our behaviors and our surroundings in response to the changing climate.  Kahn – in prose funny, pointed, and engaging – shows us how this will happen.

Kahn is optimistic about the quality of our lives in the cities of the future, despite a high chance of less hospitable climate conditions than we face today.  At the heart of his conviction in a bright future is our individual freedom of choice.  Unlike birds and butterflies, we have a much wider variety of choices and options that allow us to protect ourselves.  This personal freedom will reveal pathways that will greatly help urbanites cope with climate change.

Billions of households will seek out strategies for protecting their families from harm.  Some will move to higher ground to areas that are unlikely to flood while others will seek out products ranging from more energy-efficient air conditioning to higher quality building materials to protect themselves from climate change’s blows.  Some regions and cities will prosper, and, of course, others will not.

Taking the reader on a tour of the world’s cities – from New York to Los Angeles, Beijing to Mumbai – Kahn’s clear-eyed, engaging, and optimistic message presents a positive yet realistic picture of what our urban future will look like.” – publisher description