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A Sea in Flames by Carl Safina - Excerpt

A Sea in Flames by Carl Safina - Excerpt

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Carl Safina has been hailed as one of the top 100 conservations of the 20th century (Audubon Magazine) and A Sea in Flames is his blistering account of the months-long manmade disaster that tormented a region and mesmerized the nation. Traveling across the Gulf to make sense of an ever-changing story and its often-nonsensical twists, Safina expertly deconstructs the series of calamitous misjudgments that caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout, zeroes in on BP’s misstatements, evasions, and denials, reassesses his own reaction to the government’s crisis handling, and reviews the consequences of the leak—and what he considers the real problems, which the press largely overlooked.

Safina takes us deep inside the faulty thinking that caused the lethal explosion. We join him on aerial surveys across an oil-coated sea. We confront pelicans and other wildlife whose blue universe fades to black. Safina skewers the excuses and the silly jargon—like “junk shot” and “top kill”—that made the tragedy feel like a comedy of horrors—and highlighted Big Oil’s appalling lack of preparedness for an event that was inevitable.

Based on extensive research and interviews with fishermen, coastal residents, biologists, and government officials, A Sea In Flames has some surprising answers on whether it was “Obama’s Katrina,” whether the Coast Guard was as inept in its response as BP was misleading, and whether this worst unintended release of oil in history was really America’s worst ecological disaster.

Impassioned, moving, and even sharply funny, A Sea in Flames is ultimately an indictment of America’s main addiction. Safina writes: “In the end, this is a chronicle of a summer of pain—and hope. Hope that the full potential of this catastrophe would not materialize, hope that the harm done would heal faster than feared, and hope that even if we didn’t suffer the absolutely worst—we’d still learn the big lesson here. We may have gotten two out of three. That’s not good enough. Because: there’ll be a next time.”

To read more about A Sea in Flames or Carl Safina please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
Carl Safina has been hailed as one of the top 100 conservations of the 20th century (Audubon Magazine) and A Sea in Flames is his blistering account of the months-long manmade disaster that tormented a region and mesmerized the nation. Traveling across the Gulf to make sense of an ever-changing story and its often-nonsensical twists, Safina expertly deconstructs the series of calamitous misjudgments that caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout, zeroes in on BP’s misstatements, evasions, and denials, reassesses his own reaction to the government’s crisis handling, and reviews the consequences of the leak—and what he considers the real problems, which the press largely overlooked.

Safina takes us deep inside the faulty thinking that caused the lethal explosion. We join him on aerial surveys across an oil-coated sea. We confront pelicans and other wildlife whose blue universe fades to black. Safina skewers the excuses and the silly jargon—like “junk shot” and “top kill”—that made the tragedy feel like a comedy of horrors—and highlighted Big Oil’s appalling lack of preparedness for an event that was inevitable.

Based on extensive research and interviews with fishermen, coastal residents, biologists, and government officials, A Sea In Flames has some surprising answers on whether it was “Obama’s Katrina,” whether the Coast Guard was as inept in its response as BP was misleading, and whether this worst unintended release of oil in history was really America’s worst ecological disaster.

Impassioned, moving, and even sharply funny, A Sea in Flames is ultimately an indictment of America’s main addiction. Safina writes: “In the end, this is a chronicle of a summer of pain—and hope. Hope that the full potential of this catastrophe would not materialize, hope that the harm done would heal faster than feared, and hope that even if we didn’t suffer the absolutely worst—we’d still learn the big lesson here. We may have gotten two out of three. That’s not good enough. Because: there’ll be a next time.”

To read more about A Sea in Flames or Carl Safina please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Publish date: Apr 19, 2011
Added to Scribd: Apr 15, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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satyridae reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This was a fascinating read on so many fronts. One of the most interesting things for me as a huge Safina fan, was to watch him write from a state of blinding, towering rage. This book was written in real time, with a few later comments inserted here and there. I think that writing well from a place of blistering anger is incredibly difficult, and watching Safina fulminate wildly at the beginning was both a little disconcerting and a little reassuring- he's just as human as the rest of us, for all he's arguably the greatest nature writer of our times.

The story itself is heartbreaking but ultimately not what I thought it would be. The conclusions drawn at the end are fairly magnanimous and even-handed- and the eventual thrust of the book is more about our need for and use of fossil fuels than the chain of tragedies which come about because of that need.

The other cost of the tragedy, the loss of livelihood and culture in the Gulf, is highlighted starkly throughout. The interviews with shrimpers and fishers and the supporting community members are very moving.

A couple of quotes from near the end of the book:

"The best way to respond to the Gulf disaster? Not washing oil off birds, picking up turtles, spraying dispersants, or cleaning beaches. Rather, pulling the subsidies out from under Big Petroleum. Since we pay those subsidies in our income taxes and lose sight of them, it'd be better to put them right in our gasoline and oil taxes and let ourselves be shocked at the pump by the true cost we're paying - and hurry toward better options."

"There was another time when people vehemently insisted that changing America's main source of energy would wreck the economy. The cheapest energy that ever powered America was slavery. Energy is always a moral issue."

There's a lot to learn here, and some of it will make you furious all over again. Some of it will make you think. Highly recommended.
sandydog1_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This hurried work was, er, quite a surprise. An angry, fragmented diatribe, full of the author's "facts", as well as other "facts" from such peer-reviewed scientific powerhouses as AP, CNN, local newspapers, Fox, etc. Then there's the insulting, derogatory name-calling: "Captain Coon-ass", "Thadmiral" Allen, et al. I guess this is the best one could do, in order to churn out and deliver a hard-cover, 300-page book almost immediately after a horrific natural disaster. The unbelievably tragic event turned a naturalist authhor into some kind of angry, ranting Jimmy Hoffa.His tone changes abruptly and refreshingly in the very last chapter full of explanations and including a brief interview with USCG's retired Admiral Thad Allen. This was an informative book, but the angry writing - which must be heavily emphasized to describe such a disastrous Deepwater Horizont screw-up - was just a bit over the top.Safina is an excellent writer. Read some of his other works. Read this one too. But the sarcasm is a bit tedious.
dchaikin_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
54. A Sea in Flames : The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout by Carl Safina (2011, 303 pages, read Oct 16 – Dec 16)In the first 50 or so pages Safina covers what led to the blowout. This section is clear and concise and got me excited to read this book. Importantly, it let me know Safina can write, because the rest of the book is an unstructured ranting mess. After the blowout Safine goes month by month discussing what he saw and what he learned at that time, and expressing all this frustration. I stopped reading for over six weeks before forcing my way through. The wandering text makes it very hard to take much away. He wraps things up at the end, where he includes a fascinating interview with Admiral Thad Allen and NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. But my feeling on finishing was the desire to tell Safina, “Ok, you’ve ranted, now go write the book.”I did get some interesting information out of this. I was looking for a summary of the environmental impact, and quite frankly it doesn’t exist, we don’t have enough information yet. But Safina noted that the Gulf was remarkably resilient. The dying Louisiana coastal marshes didn’t suffer that badly overall. Most of the oysters are gone, but that was caused by stupid decision by the state of Louisiana, not directly by the oil.So, some useful information, but not structured or clearly presented. This books a miss, unfortunately, unless you’re really desperate on the topic.
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