An incredible read…. While unflinching in her analysis, Soderstrom nevertheless gifts us with a message of hope and resilience. — MAUDE BARLOW, activist and author of Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism.

What can we learn about coping with rising sea levels from ancient times?

The scenario we are facing is scary: within a few decades, sea levels around the world may well rise by a metre or more as glaciers and ice caps melt due to climate change. Large parts of our coastal cities will be flooded, the basic outline of our world will be changed, and torrential rains will present their own challenges. But this is not the first time that people have had to cope with threatening waters, because sea levels have been rising for thousands of years, ever since the end of the last Ice Age. Stories told by the Indigenous people in Australia and on the Pacific coast of North America, and those found in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as Roman and Chinese histories all bear witness to just how traumatic these experiences were. The responses to these challenges varied: people adapted by building dikes, canals, and seawalls; by resorting to prayer or magic; and, very often, by moving out of the way of the rushing waters.

Against the Seas explores these stories as well as the various measures being taken today to combat rising waters, focusing on five regions: Indonesia, Shanghai, the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, the Salish Sea, and the estuary of the St. Lawrence River. What happened in the past and what is being tried today may help us in the future and, if nothing else, give us hope that we will survive.