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 centre 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.
FOREWORD Bill McKibben
Hilda Heine, Marshall Islands / Dessima Williams, Grenada
INTRODUCTION Of Oceans and Islands
Republic of Cabo Verde
Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
INDIAN OCEAN AND PERSIAN GULF
Kingdom of Bahrain
Union of the Comoros
Republic of Mauritius
Republic of Seychelles
Republic of Maldives
Bhasan Char and Sandwip
Republic of Singapore
South China Sea Islands
Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
Republic of Palau
Federated States of Micronesia
Republic of Marshall Islands
Republic of Kiribati
Republic of Nauru
Republic of Vanuatu
Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Republic of Fiji
Independent State of Samoa
Kingdom of Tonga
CARIBBEAN SEA AND GULF OF MEXICO
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Commonwealth of Dominica
Antigua and Barbuda
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Republic of Cuba
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Isle de Jean Charles
Christina Gerhardt is an Associate Professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, a Senior Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former Barron Professor of Environment and the Humanities at Princeton University. Her environmental journalism has been published by Grist.org, The Nation, The Progressive, and the Washington Monthly.
"How often does an atlas command immediate attention, warranting a page-by-page perusal? [...] This unique approach documents dramatic climate change while mounting an impassioned plea to save what remains of these remarkable island communities."
– Booklist, starred review
"Gerhardt's book [...] feature[s], on each spread, a map of an island or island group; visualizations of the island's sea level today and in 2050 and 2100; geographic data about each island; demographic data about its Indigenous inhabitants; a timeline of Indigenous, 'pre-contact', and climate-related histories; and an essay on the island and its inhabitants. Each narrative [...] depict[s] various 'solutions' deployed both by global and national governments and by Indigenous peoples: from sea walls and geoengineering to preserving and restoring coral and oyster reefs, mangrove marshes, wetlands, and other natural buffers."
– Shannon Mattern, The Avery Review
"[Sea Change] is a work of art, and Gerhardt [...] weaves together quite a collection of essays, maps and poetry that invite us to rethink our relationship to these vanishing landscapes."
– Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times
"[Sea Change] gives far-flung places a voice, grounds them in our imaginations as real places with cultures of their own, places that people call home and have done for generations. There's a strong climate justice angle to all of this of course."
– The Earthbound Report
"Sea level rise will make all current atlases obsolete as it encroaches on coastlines and erases whole islands from the Arctic to the South Pacific. In Christina Gerhardt's stunning atlas of the present and future, we not only see these living places disappear in stages, but hear from their inhabitants in this mix of cartography, science, history, and urgent outcry about the climate crisis. This book makes tangible and visible both the physical changes and their cultural, emotional, and social impact."
– Rebecca Solnit, author of several books including Infinite Cities: A Trilogy of Atlases – San Francisco, New Orleans, New York
"This book presents islands as more than just geographic locations, as places of resilience replete with history and culture laced with the fiber that underscores the interface of planet, people, and other beings in the time of looming catastrophic climate change. Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean maps hopes and histories and offers cautionary tales and wake-up calls couched in sensitive yet expansive poetics of life. This is a rare gift."
– Nnimmo Bassey, author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa
"Islands are extraordinarily rich – in history, culture, and biodiversity. In an age of climate change, they're also incredibly vulnerable. At once lyrical and clear-sighted, Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean invites us to rethink our relationship to these magical, threatened places."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
"In this engaging and timely work, Gerhardt maps how islands have and will continue to change due to rising sea levels. She invites us to see these changes, not only through the form and genre of the atlas, but also through the eyes, voices, and perspectives of islanders themselves."
– Craig Santos Perez, author of Navigating CHamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization
"A vital guide to understanding and navigating this time of rising oceans. A love song to island peoples and civilizations facing unimaginable loss. A paean of resistance and re-visioning, towards livable futures."
– Shailja Patel, author of Migritude