Cover: A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End, from Harvard University PressCover: A Reef in Time in PAPERBACK

A Reef in Time

The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End

Product Details


$27.00 • £23.95 • €24.95

ISBN 9780674034976

Publication Date: 03/30/2010


304 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

48 color illustrations, 37 halftones

Belknap Press


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[A Reef in Time] provides a compelling and highly readable account of the formation of the reef, as well as a description of its role as a functioning part of the ocean’s ecosystem. Despite its grandeur and the appearance of permanence, the Great Barrier Reef has not always existed, nor is its future secure… Veron’s account of the threats that face the Great Barrier Reef make bleak reading… Just as the Great Barrier Reef was built through countless millions of small actions by the organisms within it, so it is being threatened by the accumulation of small activities in each of our lives, events that are individually trivial but, added together, impose a huge burden on ecological communities. Veron asks why we should care. His book makes it impossible not to, and reinforces the growing call for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The bigger question—one that is left hanging—is how to bring this about.—Anne Magurran, The Times Literary Supplement

Written by one of the world’s foremost experts on coral reefs, this time-traveling book takes readers from the earliest origins of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to its possible future. There’s no guarantee of survival for even the best-protected reef on the planet, as this passionate and accessible overview explains.—Callum Roberts, BBC Wildlife

A historical, geological and biological study of the largest coral reef. The chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science uses the Great Barrier Reef as an alarming case study on the future of coral reefs. Although it is a hypothetical tale, it is a worrying look at how the Earth is in danger of suffering the worst case of mass extinction seen for 65 million years.Times Higher Education

Decades of study of coral reefs inform J.E.N. Veron’s big-picture account of the reef’s past and future. It is an urgent, rigorous yet accessible tour de force of the geology, evolution, biology and chemistry of the reef presented through the prism of climate change… By looking at past ‘extinction events,’ like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, Veron offers an alarming glimpse into a similar future.—Fiona Capp, The Age

Not a chronicle of the life of coral reefs, but an anticipation of their death. It is a work grounded in science, but which departed from the careful jargon of probability and possibility to become an impassioned, anguished eulogy delivered by a dear friend of the imminently deceased… [Veron‘s] book travels back through the fossil record to the remote past, reflecting on the five great extinction events that wiped out much of life on earth and finding a thread of commonality.—Jo Chandler, The Age

This is not a book for the fainthearted… Indeed, Veron believes we are on the brink of the sixth mass extinction of the planet. He makes his case in this book and paints a vivid picture of what we will be losing if we do not stop spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere… The book is easy to read with well-placed illustrations to explain complex concepts. It presents its argument in a logical and increasingly disturbing sequence that reaches a bleak end. It is a plea for urgent action written by a man who is passionate about the Great Barrier Reef. It should be read widely by anyone who cares about our planet.—Louise Goggin, Australian Marine Science Association Bulletin

Time is running out for the Great Barrier Reef, and no one knows it better than J.E.N. VeronA Reef in Time is fascinating in that it puts climate change in context of the history of the earth, by concentrating on one element of it. It’s bleak—but not as bleak as the outlook for the reef—and is backed up by extensive data and scientific research and analysis. It is the whole, and last, word on the Great Barrier Reef and climate change.—Jodie Davis and Margaret Ambrose, Habitat Australia

This impressive volume covers a large topic and does so very well. Though it is ostensibly centered on the Great Barrier Reef, the book treats the general nature of and environmental controls on coral reefs, and their history over geologic time since the Silurian Period… The book is highly readable and well produced.—N. Caine, Choice

Veron once thought Australia’s Great Barrier Reef would endure forever, but after witnessing the devastation inflicted on corals by elevated sea temperatures, he now knows this is false. In his impassioned book, the former chief scientist with the Australian Institute of Marine Science highlights reefs as indicators of climate change’s effects on marine and other ecosystems… Coral health affects all marine life. According to Veron’s detailed analysis, corals will be incapable of relying on genetic adaptation to recover because the time frame for such evolutionary changes is too short. Complex scientific material serves Veron’s straightforward message: climate change will soon reach the point of no return—possibly within a decade—and cause disaster for not only corals but many, if not all, marine food webs.Publishers Weekly

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