When mass coral bleaching and die-offs were first identified in the 1980s, and eventually linked to warming events, the reef science community was sure that such a dramatic and unambiguous signal would serve as a warning sign about the devastating effects of global warming. Except it didn’t! Most of us just did not give a damn. Coral reefs were just another just-so nature story.
Subsequent decades have witnessed yet more degradation. Reefs around the world have lost more than 50 percent of their living coral since the 1970s.
With a lifetime enmeshed in coral reef science, I’ve witnessed their scintillating splendor and I do care what happens to them. I also see their tragedy as an early sign of the wider environmental crisis we’ve built through our selfish disregard for Nature. In this book, I take the reader on a journey to make reefs real, building a sense of awe and wonder that they exist, and a commitment to caring about their plight. Together we explore why the reef story has had so little impact and we reframe the enormous challenge humanity faces as a noble venture to steer the planet into safe waters, waters that might even retain some coral reefs.
Now available at Yale University Press or your favorite bookstore worldwide.
“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
“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
“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
“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