Cover Image: The Atlas of Disappearing Places

The Atlas of Disappearing Places

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Member Reviews

THE ATLAS OF DISAPPEARING PLACES by Christina Conklin and Marina Psaros is all about "Our Coasts and Oceans in the Climate Crisis." Conklin (an artist, writer, and researcher) and Psaros (a sustainability expert who works with NOAA and USGS) have created an absolutely breathtaking set of illustrations. They chose to focus on about twenty locations around the world (including Camden, Maine; Houston, Texas; Ben Tre, Vietnam; and Gravesend, United Kingdom). For each, they include a map which was created with water-soluble inks on dried "sea lettuce" and digitally layered onto a Google Earth image. Also in each chapter is an exploration of a key term (technology, vulnerability, resilience) related to climate change; plus, graphs, data, and a "speculative vignette about the future." In a New York Times interview, Psaros says, "using art and storytelling to talk about the science and policy, was a way to hopefully make the issue more accessible to a broader range of people." Students and faculty will be enthralled – and hopefully prompted to act. Extensive notes, image sources, and a helpful index are included.

Although changes (in ocean chemistry, extreme weather, warming waters and rising sea levels) along the coasts is the focus of THE ATLAS OF DISAPPEARING PLACES, Dan Egan has written an excellent feature for The New York Times about Chicago's struggles with changing water levels: "A Battle between a Great City and a Great Lake." Also of possible interest is a New Yorker article written by Bill McKibben – it deals with a variety of climate issues and part is an interview with Conklin about creating THE ATLAS OF DISAPPEARING PLACES.

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This book attempts to explain some of the effects of climate change on the coastal areas of the world, as rising sea levels and increasingly devastating storms become a greater concern. The book is divided into four parts, and covers 20 different places that may encounter climate-related issues in the future.

Part 1 discusses the ways that reliance on fossil fuels and the growing plastic pollution is changing the chemistry of the oceans. Part 2 analyzes data about deadly storms, and how to better prepare for them in the future. Part 3 talks about the warming water temperatures and what the effects on our ecosystems could be. Part 4 discusses the tipping points of rising sea levels and the combination of all of the other factors.

The book uses the analogy of the human body in many places, comparing warming temperatures to having a fever, and tropical storms to outbreaks of disease. This was a strange choice of analogy to me, but I was able to understand the points made. I personally thought that the raw data and diagrams would've been effective enough at communicating the urgency of the situation though.

There are many colorful and informative charts and diagrams in the book, many that depicted data in a way that I'd never seen before. This data is very helpful in understanding the problems these areas face. Overall I found this book to be informative, although somewhat disorganized, and the human body analogy seemed a bit forced. It is still worth reading though if you are interested in this subject.
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It's an interesting collection of disasters around the world. I guess may have something to do with climate change, but who knows for sure. There seemed to be many typos  in  my Kindle edition, but it may have just been a bad download.  it seems well researched and thoughtful book. And may make a good addition to a collection on climate. I'm not disputing the disasters, just not convinced of there origin in climate change. Much of the weather and climate on this planet is still not well understood and there are records that show cyclical climate changes. As for places disappearing along the coasts due to glaciers melting and oceans rising, it's not happening. Land absorbs a great deal of water as ground water, so there is hope. And The polar caps and glaciers will return in due time, I'm sure. Still, the book was worth my time to read and covered events in more detail than I had found elsewhere.
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This was a grim and  depressing glimpse into the realities of what is happening to our planet and what should be done to make drastic changes. This book is a wake-up call, for sure. It is necessary reading and should be taken seriously. I am not so worried for myself about the current conditions on the planet, but living in California now, wildfires are a very real threat. I am more concerned for my young nephews and then when they have children. What will living conditions be like on the planet? How many trees will be left (that are vital for oxygen)? Will there be any polar ice left or will coastal states and countries be mostly underwater?

This topics in this book and what is discussed are heavy strong global issues. Recommended reading for everyone.

Buying this at publishing to add to my climatology collection.

Thanks to Netgalley, Christina Conklin, Maria Psaros and The New Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available: 7/31/21
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