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Just Seconds from the Ocean
Coastal Living in the Wake of Katrina
William Sargent

2008 • 160 pp. 4 maps 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Nature / Ecology & Environmental Studies

$12.95 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-689-0

Highly recommended.—Choice

An accessible analysis of the dangers of living close to the ocean in an era of global warming and megahurricanes

The idea of living on the coast conjures images of rolling waves, rocky outcroppings, and sandy stretches of beach. This picturesque conception stands in direct contrast to the reality of the natural world. In Just Seconds from the Ocean: Coastal Living in the Wake of Katrina, William Sargent examines the real potential for catastrophe in these seemingly idyllic locations and how coastal dwellers perch precariously on the edge of disaster.

Following the devastation wrought in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the need for a rational policy of coastal regulation and development became alarmingly clear. Sargent combines firsthand interviews with incisive analysis of the natural environment, focusing not only on New Orleans before and after Katrina, but also on how hurricanes and beach erosion have affected communities and cities as diverse as Miami, New York, Atlantic City, and Galveston. A long-time natural scientist and dedicated environmentalist, Sargent argues strenuously that serious consideration must be paid to the natural protection provided by barrier islands, inlets, and free-flowing rivers as man-made features threaten to destroy these built-in environmental safeguards.

Just Seconds from the Ocean is a timely and necessary examination of current coastal communities and recent storms paired with historical insights into human reactions and responses to catastrophic flooding from hurricanes. Analysis of events from the nineteenth century to the present creates a continuum of knowledge and a chance to prepare for the future by examining the past. The science of global warming, sea level rise, and other natural occurrences are woven into this precautionary tale of environmental phenomenon and human resilience.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“In this very . . . fascinating, and well-documented book, Sargent, a naturalist and environmental scientist, documents a year of travel to different US coastal locations. Taking both a current and historical perspective, he ponders the lives of coastal dwellers and their relationships and reactions to destructive environmental forces. Highly recommended.”—Choice

"Author William Sargent provides a fascinating tour of the American East and Gulf Coasts. History and coastal science are mixed with colorful politics to look at the problematic and complex future facing those who live near the level of the sea as the level of the sea is rising. If you're a coastal buff, you wont be able to put this book down once you've started it."—Orrin Pilkey, Emeritus Professor of Geology, Duke University, and co-author of The Beaches are Moving: The Drowning of America's Shoreline

“An exquisitely crafted and very enjoyable account of our past, present, and future vulnerability to coastal storms. This should be read by all those who currently live near or are contemplating moving to the seaside.”—Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Author Photo

WILLIAM SARGENT is a consultant for the NOVA Science series. His most recent books, all published by University Press of New England, include Writing Naturally: A Memoir (UPNE, 2006), The House on Ipswich Marsh (UPNE, 2005), Storm Surge: A Coastal Village Battles the Rising Atlantic (UPNE, 2004), and Crab Wars: A Tale of Horseshoe Crabs, Bioterrorism, and Human Health (UPNE, 2002). Formerly Director of the Baltimore Aquarium and a research assistant at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he has taught at the Briarwood Center for Marine Biology and at Harvard University.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:55:56 -0500