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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

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on 29 March 2017
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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on 4 July 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 16 August 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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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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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 August 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Isn't it depressing what we're doing to this planet and how mostly we don't really care. The ocean seems so big you can't believe it can be destroyed, polluted, ruined to the point when it will no longer support life and what then, where's the fish we rely on to feed so many people? The ocean is one of our most valuable natural assets, it's part of what we are never mind who we are, and if we're not really careful it's going to be so toxic we'll have lost everything we currently take for granted. I'm not a scientist, I'm the least scientific person I know, but I wanted to read this book because I've seen the build up of pollution at the coast and I wanted an idea of what was happening, what was causing it. Reading Ocean of Life hasn't cheered me up any but I feel strongly that it's a book any responsible adult should at least have a look at, it's got an important message for all of us. I expected some of the text would go over my head, be too scientific, it isn't; in fact it's mostly very accessible and easy to read though it does present a challenge. There's some fascinating facts in here, I had no idea just how much we interact with the sea and how out lifestyles affect it, fascinating stuff.
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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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on 11 October 2012
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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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.) Roberts finishes the book by listing some of the many organisations working towards marine preservation and giving an idea of the approach each organisation is taking.

I did not find this an easy or enjoyable read. It was hard work in places as Roberts piled on more and more evidence to back his arguments, sometimes with greater detail than I felt necessary. However, the message of the book is a vitally important one and Roberts has succeeded in getting that message across. I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in environmental matters - and that should really be everyone, shouldn't it?
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on 5 January 2013
This is an important book because of its message. Written by Callum Roberts, Professor of marine conservation at the University of York, it's a plea to take notice of the huge risks and damage to the oceans, to realise that threats to them are threats to our way of life ... and to do something about it.

Roberts starts by reminding us of "shifting baseline syndrome" - the fact each generation can be unaware it is witnessing an impoverished environment vis-a-vis the past. Roberts cites e.g., how the fish landed at Key West reduced in size during the 1950's-1980's, and how the catch landed from the North Sea has plummeted since 1890 in spite of huge technological advances.

Some of the analysis is complicated, but, briefly Roberts talks of the 5 horsemen of the on-going apocalypse i.e., climate change, pollution, overkill (by fishing), invasive species, and habitat loss. For example, climate change brings temperature changes at a speed species may have difficulty adjusting to ... and increased CO2 levels that acidify the ocean. Pollution results inter alia in enormous plankton blooms, huge areas of floating debris trapped in oceanic gyres, and e.g., plastics entering the food chain. Fishing is on a scale, using methods, which have devastated and continue to devastate fish stocks and the submarine web of life. I was stunned by the atrocious statistics the author gives of collateral damage from long line fishing for mahi-mahi (near Costa Rica); to capture 211 mahi-mahi cost the lives of 468 olive ridley turtles, 408 pelagic stingrays, 413 silky sharks, 47 devil rays, 24 thresher sharks, 22 blue marlin, 34 striped marlin, etc.,.

Callum Roberts says that though things will get worse for some years he is optimistic e.g., because man is flexible and inventive and because- in an environment where people are increasingly aware of the problems - Roberts has been pleased that it's proved possible to establish some marine reserves. For my money there are good grounds for being very worried. Perhaps it's true that global population will peak in mid-century, but the global economy is using more and more resources and climate change, acidification and pollution are not under control.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ocean of Life

This book is very thought provoking. It tries and largely succeeds in telling the story of how we have become a throwaway society by using the Oceans as a big sewer and general dumping ground.

The book eloquently describes how the Oceans work and have developed through time along with the natural forces that have shaped them. Then it overlays this with how Humankind has, in a relatively short time, destroyed them or altered the biology to the detriment many of the natural systems which run in our oceans.

The writing style is both scientific and narrative but it works and I found it both a disturbing and an enjoyable read. I trained as a Biologist so I found some of the explanations a bit light but having said that anyone can follow the science and message of this book. The message is delivered well without padding and this is to the authors credit.
This is a book every industrialist and decision maker in parliament should read before making blanket decisions about problems affecting the natural environment. The book should also be on every marine and environmental scientists essential reading list. In my opinion Callum Roberts has taken a very difficult issue and explained very well what the consequences are for our species and just about every other if we carry on using the oceans as dumping ground.
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