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"A stunning atlas of the present and future."—Rebecca Solnit, author of several books including Infinite Cities: A Trilogy of Atlases—San Francisco, New Orleans, New York
"An impassioned plea to save what remains of these remarkable island communities."—Booklist, starred review
One of the Best Science Books of 2023, New Scientist
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.
About the Author
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.org, The Nation, The Progressive, and the Washington Monthly.
"[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
"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
"Each entry on each threatened island is rigorously scientific – maps, diagrams and statistics are there in abundance. . . . [A]longside all this, Gerhardt also offers poems from the communities and cultures under threat, as well as images of works of art and historical artefacts. . . . The overall result is a detailed and visually impactful inventory of all that we stand to lose."
— The Scotsman
"The micro-chapters with their maps and timelines make this the kind of book that is easy to dip in and out of and experience in no particular order. You can island-hop just by flipping the page, and on every page you’ll encounter some scientific curiosity or historical factoid."
— Sierra Magazine
"[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 Change's] essays, maps, art and poetry place small islands (vanishing under rising seas right now) at the centre of the climate story. This is a refreshingly different perspective."
— New Scientist
“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.”
— UK National Association for Environmental Education
"Gerhardt could have created a purely scientific report of what’s been happening to such far-flung places as Lnnui Mnukuk, the Mi’kmaq name for Lennox Island in Canada’s North Atlantic provinces, and the Republic of Nauru in the Pacific, the world’s smallest independent island nation. Instead, she considers her artfully designed book a 'transportive atlas' that incorporates maps, essays, poetry and images, along with brief histories outlining the impacts of colonialism and imperialism, providing more of a holistic and multi-media experience."
"[I]rresistible . . . The book covers 49 islands, island groups and island nations around the world, each with its own short chapter giving an overview of the location’s history, the present, and the impending dangerous future Each is also accompanied by a map. Most chapters are straightforward narrative, but there is also poetry and art sprinkled throughout. The effect is to both expand the view to every ocean around the world, but to also keep the focus on a very personal, human level."
— Daily Kos
"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 most beautiful title on our list, Sea Change is also the most shocking. Atlases are being redrawn as islands vanish into the ocean. This remarkable hardback combines bold, slick and effective visualisations of those changes with factual information, cultural traditions and scientific research about the planet’s most vulnerable isles, and asks what might save them."
— Environment Journal
"In this definitive and authoritative guide, Gerhardt fuses the poetic voices of the islanders themselves along with visual maps, highlighting where the issues are likely to be felt the most. The priority in this text, repeated throughout, is that of being a testimony to the cultures, histories and values that are in danger of being lost, as sea level rise continues."
— Climate with Brian
"Christina Gerhardt has done an exceptional job of detailing the predicaments being faced by some of the world’s most vulnerable island communities . . . this is a highly respectable piece of journalistic work, and simultaneously a beautiful design object . . . Sea Change’s aesthetic allure will mean that it reaches the coffee tables of those who might not have ordinarily thought themselves interested in the topics being addressed, and that feels crucial right now."
— Geographical Magazine
"[Sea Change] is an ode to islands large and small, north and south, and the many peoples who call them home. It is a book of science and stories and, yes, even hope amidst the rising waters. . . . I guarantee anyone who reads it will come away with a better understanding of the world’s many islands and a desire to do something about protecting them."