The title of Mapping the Deep
suggests that it is primarily about oceanography. Although the extremely interesting history of this subject forms a major element in the book, its broader, richer subject is man's changing relationship with the oceans. Until recently these have been characterised by high-handed ignorance, the oceans seen at once as inexhaustible resource and bottomless dump. Robert Kunzig remarks that politicians and science writers seem to be most interested in space exploration, whereas the real story is closer at hand--in the oceans. The symbolic goals of space exploration are easier to understand than the endlessly complex ecology of the deep oceans or the mysteries of the great currents that circle the globe and control its weather. Yet, as Kunzig demonstrates, the oceans are where the future of mankind may be determined. It is now widely accepted, for example, that global warming may precipitate a sudden, massive realignment of the ocean currents, an event certain to have vast but unforeseeable consequences. The climatic catastrophes attendant on the relatively minor disturbance known as El Nino give an idea of what may be in store.
Mapping the Deep records the extraordinary (and chronically underfunded) work of the scientists who have painstakingly explored the huge chemical, biological and geographical mechanism of the oceans. Robert Kunzig provides expert and gripping accounts of the (literally) earth-shattering revelation of plate tectonics, the novel life-forms of the black smokers, the unexpected diversity of life at the greatest depths, the commanding ecological role played by the overlooked organisms of the oceanic plankton, the dreadful consequences of over-fishing; and much more. His ability to make complex science comprehensible to the non-scientist without over-simplification make him the best kind of populariser. A remarkable book, both a celebration and a warning. --Robin Davidson
About the Author
Robert Kunzig is a multiple award winning science writer, and European editor of Discover magazine. He will be supporting publication with extensive UK press and radio interviews, promoting the book as the ideal summer science read.