SEA CHANGE: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean is a new book from the University of California Press. Its author is Christina Gerhardt. Pages: 320 ISBN: 9780520304826 Price: £30.00

This is not just an Atlas but more an experience. As you turn the pages you realise that you are hearing life and death stories of communities that are in danger of disappearing.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to have a teaching exchange to New Zealand and realised that, as well as the basic three Rs, we were daily experiencing geography, history and sociology and life itself at the same time.  The school was on the tip of the Ocean and overlooking almost daily ocean tankers arriving to supply New Zealand’s only oil refinery, a lifeline for the country.  We still keep in touch and often look out from the plane on journeys at the number of Pacific Islands, aware that New Zealand is a close link for many of them. This Atlas covers not just the Pacific but Islands over of all the other oceans.

As soon as I turned the Atlas’s introductory pages and began to read the facts, the histories, their resources and trading, but overall their concerns, its message was clear. To quote just briefly from the global wake-up call from Marcus Stephen, recent president of Nauru: “it’s crucial for the international community to recognise climate change as a danger as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism.”  Global Warming was never mentioned in my school days for I was just a post-war child. We now have a new war to win!

Meanwhile let’s hope that this comprehensive and well presented Atlas receives the publicity and sales that it deserves and becomes a must have book for all Secondary School libraries.

David Fellows

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