In This Review

The Atlas of Coasts and Oceans: Ecosystems, Threatened Resources, Marine Conservation
The Atlas of Coasts and Oceans: Ecosystems, Threatened Resources, Marine Conservation
By Don Hinrichsen
University Of Chicago Press, 2011, 128 pp.

For those who like maps and numbers, this atlas illustrates the pressures bearing down on the world’s coasts and inshore waters and the pressures created, in turn, for people who live near coasts (most of the world’s population) and whose livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on the sea. Climate change resulting from human activity is only one threat to coasts and oceans, and not the most imminent one. Massive waste disposal and overfishing have altered marine ecosystems beyond easy repair. Hinrichsen’s book also offers some surprising details about the sources and extent of marine pollution: for example, the amount of oil released into the oceans has been declining for several decades, despite a rise in world oil consumption and a sharp rise in offshore production. Nonetheless, national and international attempts to relieve these pressures have lagged way behind the problems. For instance, a protocol to control land-based pollution of the Mediterranean came into force only in 2008, 32 years after European states signed a treaty intended to protect that crucial body of water.