The deadliest catch
The deadliest catch
“In Pursuit of Giants,” Viking Books
There are a lot of fish in the sea. At least, there used to be. In “In Pursuit of Giants,” Matt Rigney, an ocean restoration activist, uses a series of big-game fishing trips — to Nova Scotia, Malta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — to reflect upon the declining bounty of the world’s oceans. As he explains it, over the past century poor oversight and outright greed have allowed the fishing industry to decimate fish populations, particularly the big species, such as swordfish, marlin and tuna, that humans tend to find most delicious. Rigney uses fishing travelogues (he does environmentally sensitive catch-and-release, naturally) to cultivate an appreciation for the ocean’s natural beauty. But he also spends a fair amount of space ticking off the implements of destruction that industrial fleets use to maximize their catch, such as drift nets (walls of netting that extend for miles) and scallop dredges, which rake the muck at the bottom. At the book’s conclusion, he provides policy recommendations and some personal tips — among them, stop eating endangered fish — that can help relieve some of the damage.
National Geographic, June
Timothy Ferris writes in this month’s magazine about solar flares, which occur when loops of magnetic force on the surface of the sun intersect and essentially short-circuit, causing a blast of solar wind to explode into space. These happen fairly regularly, and the really big ones seem to have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth by interrupting communications and blowing out power grids. The last truly massive storm, in 1859, knocked out telegraph systems across the globe. A storm of similar strength today might fry the transformers serving cities, leaving millions without light, potable water, heating, air conditioning and telephone service for months. Victims of such plagues will at least get to experience some breathtaking vistas: When the charged particles strike our planet’s atmospheric gases, they light up the nighttime skies with red, purple and green auroras.
— Aaron Leitko