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Ocean of Life Paperback – 25 Apr 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241950708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241950708
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Those of us who worry about the future of our oceans could do a lot worse than take up this single refrain, "Listen to Callum Roberts!". Shouted in the ears of the world's leaders, it might just make a difference. Meanwhile we should all read Ocean of Life, a thrilling narrative of oceanic natural history and a vital call to action (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

Authoritative and furious ... a grand survey ... impossible to ignore ... Ocean of Life is the sort of book that inspires you to get in touch with your MP. It is elegantly written, at times overwhelming and depressing, but generally urgent and persuasive. Informed citizens of our watery planet should read it (Brian Schofield Sunday Times)

At the heart of this book is a deep love of the ocean and a profound concern for its viability as a resource for us all ... A story told with both scientific accuracy and narrative skill ... Roberts's clear, well-written accounts give us access to vast amounts of scientific information ... each chapter is edged with fascinating details about the life of the sea (Stephen R Palumbi Nature)

The urgency of Callum Roberts' message - that we have very little time to save the oceanic environment on which our existence depends - is in no way undermined by the entertaining and brilliantly-written nature of his writing. This is simply a fascinating book, taking in everything from the elemental formations of the oceans to the denizens that inhabit them; from minute plankton to the great whales - and everything that threatens them, and us. Roberts imparts his vast knowledge with a consummate talent for colourful narrative and devastating facts. His book will be required reading for anyone who cares about the oceans - not least because, as well as underlining the scale of the problems, he offers us the hope of real solutions (Philip Hoare, author of 'Leviathan or, The Whale')

Ocean of Life is an excellent and engrossing work. Mr. Roberts, a British professor of marine conservation, has corralled an astonishing collection of scientific discovery ... I hope a great many people-particularly those in that undecided middle-read this book (G. Bruce Knecht Wall Street Journal)

Callum Roberts has done it again. From showing us the past with the wisdom of a Dickens character in his earlier book, he now leads us toward the future in The Ocean of Life. It's a book so fine, I wish I'd written it! (Carl Safina, author of 'Song for the Blue Ocean' and 'The View From Lazy Point' -)

An engrossing survey of the relationship between man and the sea for readers living through the greatest environmental changes in 65 million years ... Roberts's meditation will have readers gasping aloud with wonder, even as the sobering truth of humans' profound interdependence with the sea provokes concern (Starred review Publisher's Weekly)

An impressive history of the oceans ... one of this book's strengths is the many solutions Roberts outlines to reverse the dismal state of the seas (Pilita Clark Financial Times)

There is a dearth of good and comprehensive books on a subject that can seem too complicated and depressing for any single tome. Callum Roberts has now provided one ... there is no quibbling with the evidence of marine horrors that Mr Roberts presents (The Economist)

It's probably a bit too soon to start talking about candidates for books of the year. But Callum Roberts' latest offering should already be considered a strong contender. Roberts is that precious pearl: a practising scientist who not only knows his field inside out, but also understands how to write compelling, persuasive non-fiction (Leo Hickman Guardian)

About the Author

Callum Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York. For the last 10 years he has campaigned for stronger protection for the sea at national and international levels, including advising the United Nations, European Commission and the European Parliament. He was on the WWF-US National Council for six years and currently serves as a Council Member of Fauna and Flora International, a Board Member of Seaweb and a WWF-UK Ambassador. Callum's first book The Unnatural History of the Sea won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Prize, and was named by The Washington Post as one of the Best 10 Books of the Year.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to say that I have just finished reading possibly the most profoundly influential book of my life. If you have the slightest interest in the well being of the marine environment and indeed the whole planetary ecosystem, I urge you to get a copy of Callum Roberts's Ocean Of Life (ISBN 9780241950708). It's a marine scientist's assessment of the deterioration in the health of our seas and catastrophic decline in fish stocks through unsustainable and increasingly mechanised fishing methods. Be aware, the first half of the book makes rather depressing reading but its salvation is in the optimism of the second half where Professor Roberts sets out his vision for the recovery of the ocean's health and a world where the sea can feed the world's burgeoning population. It's not just about over fishing but also touches on the impact of scuba diving on coral reefs, global warming, plastics pollution etc. In my opinion, this book should be compulsorily included in the curriculum of every school in the uk if not the planet.
If you care about the sea, sea food and your children's future, read it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone must read "The Ocean of Life" to learn how we are killing the life in the oceans by over-fishing, pollution and climate change. But Callum Roberts says that he is an optimist, and that it is not too late yet for us to stop our destructive practices, seeing encouraging trends among some activists.

Gordon Spence
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By FLB VINE VOICE on 16 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is written by the man who was the consultant to the BBC series Blue Planet. The book is on the whole really depressing if like me you love the sea - I am an avid scuba diver and this book left me feeling morose - the underwater paradise that I love so much is in even more danger than I feared!

I don't want to put anyone off reading this book because I have said it is depressing, it is one of those catch 22 situations - we need to read it to understand what is happening, but in doing so the lovely state of ignorance many people bask in will be shattered. There is much we can do to save the seas as you will learn whilst reading the book - a really nice touch I thought was the author listing charitable organisations who work in marine preservation to encourage others to join them.

I hope a lot of people will read this book - we need to take action before it is too late. I would love this to be in my children's school library and covered in Geography lessons!
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By Beanie Luck TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is aimed at the more serious reader i think.

It is very indepth, very detailed, there are no childish illustrations and the text is well written, well placed out and to be honest, really fascinating.

I sat down and read this and learnt so much about the ocean that i didnt realise existed. I also found certain chapters quite intriguing and me and my partner sat down and had some very interesting debates about some of the pieces written.

I think that this would make a brilliant present for any young person that is interested in science at school or is undertaking a science degree at college or university.

I found it thoroughly engaging.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ocean of Life is a deeply thought out,well researched argument into the importance of the world's oceans to our planet.
This isn't just an exposure of how the seas are being over-fished, a subject which has received much media exposure, but also of how the absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans is critical to the continuance of life itself on Earth.
So much publicity has been given to the role of the Amazon rain-forest in combatting global warming, but it is marine plants that produce half the world's oxygen.
Unlike the doom - laden Gaia hypothesis, Callum Roberts hypothesises that it is still not too late; there is time to turn things around, save the oceans and in turn, save ourselves.
This is a scholarly but very readable book that will appeal to all with an interest in science and environmental issues; thought provoking but stopping short of giving you sleepless nights. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
A very well written book about a very tough subject.

Roberts manages to convey the crisis of the oceans that is almost on us with sparkling clarity. He doesn't over complicate the subject, but writes with an urgency and a passion.

The chapters are quite gloomy when you consider how bad the seas are. He covers the amount of rubbish, in particular plastics that are in the sea, the steady acidification due to the water absorbing carbon dioxide relentlessly. He covers the scandalous trade in sharks fin, and the devastation that bottom trawling and by catch is having. Grim, very grim.

But in all the bad news, there is some hope. More nations are starting to set aside marine reserves, and he details how even a small reserve can have a massive change to a far wider area.

A must read for those interested in the state of the largest wilderness on the planet.
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By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this book, Callum Roberts sets out to argue the case that man is damaging the oceans of the world in ways that may be irreversible if not addressed quickly and determinedly.

Roberts starts with a history of the oceans since the planet was formed, showing how previous episodes of warming, changes in acidity levels etc. have had huge effects on the animals that live there. He then gives a very detailed account, (perhaps a little over-detailed in parts) of the history of man's interaction with the sea, through fishing, shipping and pollution amongst other things. As he piles detail on detail, his argument that we are causing major and probably irreversible damage is completely convincing and thoroughly depressing. Some of the images he provides, of mass piles of discarded plastic gathering in the ocean gyres, of dead zones caused by chemical pollution, of coral reefs bleaching and dying, of life at the bottom of the seas being destroyed by trawling, are stark and horrifying. Of course we knew all this, but Roberts pulls it all together for us and shows us the consequences, so that no-one reading this book could be left feeling that this is a problem that can continue to be ignored.

It is only in the last couple of chapters that Roberts offers solutions and not unsurprisingly these are fairly straightforward - to set up protection zones, to reduce the flow of chemicals and rubbish into the seas, to combat global warming. Straightforward but not easy, though Roberts also gives examples of some major advances that have been made over the last decade or so. (Who would have expected George Dubya to come out of a book like this as one of the heroes? Apparently he set up huge protected zones before he left office.
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