Our planet is in peril. Seas are rising, oceans are acidifying, ice is melting, coasts are flooding, species are dying, and communities are faltering. Despite these dire circumstances, most people don’t have a clear sense of how the many interacting crises in our ocean are affecting the climate system, food webs, coastal cities, and biodiversity, and what solutions could help us co-create a better future.
Through a rich combination of place-based storytelling, accessible science writing, compelling graphics, and beautifully rendered maps that use a unique ink-on-dried-seaweed technique, The Atlas of Disappearing Places depicts twenty locations across the globe, from Shanghai and Antarctica to Houston and the Cook Islands. The authors describe four climate change impacts -- changing chemistry, warming waters, strengthening storms, and rising seas -- using the metaphor of the ocean as a body to draw parallels between natural systems and human systems. Each chapter paints a portrait of an existential threat in a particular place, detailing what will be lost if we do not take bold action now. Weaving together contemporary stories and speculative “future histories” for each place, this work considers both the serious consequences if we continue to pursue business as usual, and what we can do—from government policies to grassroots activism—to write a different, more hopeful story.
“The Atlas of Disappearing Places offers warnings no one wants to hear, though now we ignore them at our peril. Readable, informative, and terrifying, this important book is simultaneously global and local, affecting every aspect of our lives, inland as well as on the coasts. Read it . . . and weep . . . and act. As the seas rise, so must we.”
—Lucy R. Lippard, curator of Weather Report: Art and Climate Change
“An extraordinary journey on the frontiers of scientific understanding into life’s exquisitely complex interdependence communicated by master storytellers. At once captivating and deeply informative. Terrifying and hopeful, a must-read for all who care.”
—David Korten, author of The Great Turning and Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth
“You are holding a surprising, enlightening, hopeful book. Readers visit twenty places, immersed in the authors’ deeply researched reporting; the most heartening stories are the authors’ views of the next few decades, showing that positive change is easy to envision and realistic. The art alone speaks volumes about what is possible: for the human heart-mind to envision and pursue a beautiful way through this crisis, out to a more humane and life-affirming future.”
—Carl Safina, author of Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace
“The authors have produced a thing of beauty, a testament as gorgeous as the places it sears into our memory. If we do not care, we will not make the effort to save our world. Readers will find themselves caring deeply, and that at least is a first step.”
—Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute
“The Atlas of Disappearing Places is a story told through art and science that takes us on a journey across the planet through the throwaway culture of plastic waste and the toxic culture of fertilizers and pesticides and dead zones. It is not just a story of climate change. It is also a story of extinction. A must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the planet and people.”
—Vandana Shiva, author and international food justice activist
“The Atlas of Disappearing Places grasps the depth and breadth of change taking place. Creative, informative, and provocative, it presents us with artful surprises, poignant anecdotes, and memorable facts. I highly recommend it.”
—John Englander, oceanographer, author of Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward
“A deeply researched, artistic, heartfelt introspection of our intimate connection to Earth, and industrialized humans’ catastrophic impact upon Her. Illuminating how every decision we make impacts the planet, and thus ourselves, this rare work articulates a stark view of where we are heading, alongside possible mitigation avenues if we are to heed these blaring alarms from the front lines.”
—Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption