World Without Fish
Illustrated by Frank Stockton
“You cannot afford to be passive. … The survival of not only the oceans but of our world is at stake”
World without Fish provides an accessible overview of the cluster of human-driven challenges that threaten the survival of life in our oceans. From overfishing, marine pollution, and climate change to market competition for dwindling resources and our ignorance of the complexity of relations among different marine forms (see biodiversity, food webs, interconnectedness), Kurlansky drives home the point that unless we start treating our oceans differently by mid-century we may lose most of the commercial fish species we currently catch for food. As he introduces the book: “This is the story of how the Earth could be destroyed by well-meaning people who fail to solve the problem simply because their calculations are wrong” (x). Kurlansky brings up several specific examples of how miscalculations in the past, based on a naive assumption that ocean’s resources are inexhaustible, led to the crashing of fish populations and collapse of entire marine ecosystems. For example, the deep water species of orange roughy (Haplostethus atlanticus) discovered by commercial fishing in the 1970s became one of the world’s most threatened fish populations in a mere three decades (49). This book is a history of human (mis)relationship with the oceans, a warning, and a call to action in one.
World without Fish includes eleven chapters, resources pages, and a robust index, making it an informative, engaging, and activist-oriented. Chapters are short, written in accessible language, come with large font highlights, and can be read as stand-alone texts. The book includes illustrations, photos, colors, and has a graphic novel feel to it. For example, each chapter ends with a single page comic story of Kram and Ailat, a parallel to information chapters story of marine biologist father and his daughter. Besides rich informational context, the book’s contribution to climate literacy lies in how it dispenses with the myth of nature’s inexhaustible bounty. It stresses the need to respect limits of human pressure on marine life.
©2021 ClimateLit (Marek Oziewicz)
Audience: Rebels (14-older)
Topics: Activism, Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Climate Literacy, Commercial Fishing, Ecocidal Market Economy, Endangered Species, Extinction, Fish, Food, Food Webs, Human Impact, Industrial Aquaculture, Interconnectedness, Limits, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Pollution, Natural Resources, Oceans, Overfishing, Web of Life