Harvey. Maria. Irma. Sandy. Katrina. We live in a time of unprecedented hurricanes and catastrophic weather events, a time when it is increasingly clear that climate change is neither imagined nor distant—and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways.
In this highly original work of lyrical reportage, Elizabeth Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place. Weaving firsthand accounts from those facing this choice—a Staten Islander who lost her father during Sandy, the remaining holdouts of a Native American community on a drowning Isle de Jean Charles, a neighborhood in Pensacola settled by escaped slaves hundreds of years ago—with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists, and other members of the communities both currently at risk and already displaced, Rising privileges the voices of those usually kept at the margins.
At once polyphonic and precise, Rising is a shimmering meditation on vulnerability and on vulnerable communities, both human and more than human, and on how to let go of the places we love.
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Praise and Prizes
“Sea level rise is not some distant problem in a distant place. As Elizabeth Rush shows, it’s affecting real people right now. Rising is a compelling piece of reporting, by turns bleak and beautiful.”
“Timely and urgent, this report on how climate change is affecting American shorelines provides critical evidence of the devastating changes already faced by some coastal dwellers. Elizabeth Rush masterfully presents firsthand accounts of these changes. . . In the midst of a highly politicized debate on climate change and how to deal with its far-reaching effects, this book deserves to be read by all.”
“In this moving and memorable book, the voice of the author mingles with the voices of people in coastal communities all over the country—Maine, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Florida, New York, California—to offer testimony: The water is rising. Some have already lost their homes; some will soon; others are studying or watching or grieving. Though they haven’t met each other, their commonality forms a circle into which we are inexorably pulled by Elizabeth Rush’s powerful words.”
“From the edges of our continent, where sea level rise is already well underway, Elizabeth Rush lays bare the often hidden effects of climate change—lost homes, lost habitats, broken family ties, chronic fear and worry—and shows us how those effects ripple toward us all. With elegance, intelligence, and guts, she guides us through one of the most frightening and complex issues of our time.”
“Truly local reporting is crucial not just during natural disasters, when the national media may be present, but during the long, often painful and messy aftermath. That’s when decisions are made, too often without scrutiny, that can shape the nature of a town and the fates of its residents for generations to come. . . . Rush follows [such decisions] with tenacity, commitment, and empathy.”
“This is the sort of clear-eyed writing about climate change that we need more of!”
“Rising is an impressive feat of reportage, as well as a vital contribution to the American discourse on the effects climate change is having at this very moment to our coastal communities. Blending exemplary journalism with intimate, personal stories transcribed from conversations with people whose lives have been horrendously and irrevocably effected by rising seawater, this book is essential to our understanding of the changes we have collectively too long ignored.”