‘Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean,’ by Christina Gerhardt

I cannot help but think of the title of Rachel Carson’s 1951 masterpiece The Sea Around Us as I write here about Christina Gerhardt’s University of California Press book that will be released May 23. If you live on an island, the sea has always been around you, but with climate change, the sea may soon be above you. The book, which New Scientist calls One of the Best Science Books of 2023, is available for pre-0rder on Amazon and elsewhere.

From the Publisher

“This immersive portal to islands around the world highlights the impacts of sea level rise and shimmers with hopeful solutions to combat it.

“Atlases are being redrawn as islands are disappearing. What does an island see when the sea rises? “Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean” weaves together essays, maps, art, and poetry to show us—and make us see—island nations in a warming world.

“Low-lying islands are least responsible for global warming, but they are suffering the brunt of it. This transportive atlas reorients our vantage point to place islands at the center of the story, highlighting Indigenous and Black voices and the work of communities taking action for local and global climate justice. At once serious and playful, well-researched and lavishly designed, Sea Change is a stunning exploration of the climate and our world’s coastlines. Full of immersive storytelling, scientific expertise, and rallying cries from island populations that shout with hope—’We are not drowning! We are fighting!’—this atlas will galvanize readers in the fight against climate change and the choices we all face.”

From the Booklist Review

“How often does an atlas command immediate attention, warranting a page-by-page perusal? This offering from Gerhardt and mapmaker Molly Roy is much more than a geological survey of the many islands around the world being affected by rising sea levels caused by climate change. There are compelling maps that indicate current coastlines and what the coastlines consist of (volcanic rock, ice shelves, mangrove forests) and project what coastlines will look like in 2050 and 2100. Lengthy essays introduce the inhabitants of these often-remote places, detailing their unique languages, histories, and ways of life.” See the full review here. 

Christina Gerhardt is Associate Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Senior Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and former Barron Professor of Environment and the Humanities at Princeton University. Her environmental journalism has been published by Grist.orgThe NationThe Progressive, and the Washington Monthly.

As a university press book, Sea Change is priced slightly higher than a similar large traditional publisher’s price. However, it’s well worth it even for people who live in Kansas and think they’re immune to sea changes.