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A Portrait of the Gulf Stream: In Praise of Currents

by Érik Orsenna - £7.99  Haus Publishing Limited (2010)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781906598747 | ISBN 10: 1906598746

Érik Orsenna’s passion and concern for the future of the Gulf Stream was the motivation behind this book. He raises the questions: What is the Gulf Stream? Is it a simple river passing through the Atlantic? Where does it start and where does it end?
Orsenna read, investigated, travelled, sailed and met withs pecialists, scientists, sailors and explorers who all contributed to a better knowledge of the Gulf Stream. Orsenna describes himself as a ‘wanderer’ rather than a scientist, so he journeyed from the violent swirls off the coast of Florida to the maelstroms of Norway, from the shores of Scotland to the legendary approach to Nantucket, on land or on the sea, to meet scholars and discover the secrets of this powerful and mysterious ocean current. He invites us, readers, to join him on his voyage of discovery, full of fascinating references from Socrates to Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe to Hemingway, who all wrote about the sea and the currents, as well as explaining the theories of Arago and Coriolis and the latest scientific discoveries.
‘It so happens that ever since childhood I have been in love with ocean currents, in love with those rivers hidden in the water.’
During his childhood, Érik Orsenna’s summer months were spent in Brehat, an island in the north of Brittany surrounded by rugged rocks and strong currents. The island had everything to fire the imagination of the young Érik and develop his fascination for the sea. The sea was a playground, which mirrored his dreams and fears. But today there are concerns over the future of the Gulf Stream. Is global warming affecting this current of warm water? Will it stop flowing? What will happen if the Gulf Stream disappears?
‘The uneasiness, shared by increasing numbers of people, has to do with the health, indeed the survival of my beloved Gulf Stream. The unease is all the more disturbing for it is based on a paradox: is global warming going to kill this current of warm water?’
Orsenna is a wonderfully erudite narrator who weaves between poetry and science to offer a portrait of the Gulf Stream so we can marvel at this amazing river of seawater, which reaches widths of 150km and depths of 1,200m.His journey also leads to a reflection on climate change.

(Price & availability last checked: December 2018)

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