When mass coral bleaching and die-offs were first identified in the 1980s, and eventually linked to warming events, the scientific community was sure that such a dramatic and unambiguous signal would serve as a warning sign about the devastating effects of global warming. Instead, the resulting decades have witnessed yet more degradation. Reefs around the world have lost more than 50 percent of their living coral since the 1970s.
In this book, distinguished marine ecologist Peter F. Sale imparts his passion for the unexpected beauty, complexity, and necessity of coral reefs. By placing reefs in the wider context of global climate change, Sale demonstrates how their decline is more than simply a one-off environmental tragedy, but rather an existential warning to humanity. He offers a reframing of the enormous challenge humanity faces as a noble venture to steer the planet into safe waters that might even retain some coral reefs.
Peter F. Sale, a marine ecologist, is distinguished university professor emeritus at the University of Windsor, Canada. He most recently served as senior advisor and assistant director for coastal projects for the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment, and Health. He lives in Bracebridge, Ontario.
"Peter Sale takes readers on a dazzling tour of coral reefs, explaining the science, humanizing the scientists, and persuasively arguing why preservation of what remains is vital."
– Margaret Lowman, author of The Arbornaut
"An inspiring and readable explanation of what reefs are, where they came from, how they’re put together, what goes on inside them, why they’re important and how to save them."
– Joan Roughgarden, author of Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People
"This is Peter Sale’s love song to the coral reef – that beautiful but imperiled ecosystem. Sale writes with passion and grace about reefs, reef creatures, and the scientists who study them."
– Stephen Heard, author of Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider
"Peter Sale, an insightful scientist drawing on a lifetime of experience, offers original points of view that are compelling, persuasive, and occasionally paradoxical and a major contribution to our understanding of why coral reefs are so special."
– J. E. N. Veron, author of A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef From Beginning to End