Book Review: Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, by Jonathan White

Life. If you are interested in the ebb and flow of how life exists on planet Earth this book is for you. Understanding the nature of the oceans, and how it affects our daily lives has been a human endeavor since the dawn of time. The author of  Tides: The Science ad Spirit of the Ocean, Jonathan White, brings to the forefront the overwhelming human need to extrapolate the interplay between ocean and life.

We begin our journey on the muddy flats in the Bay of Fundy. We are educated about the delicate ecosystem. How every level of interplay has a purpose, that ends in the cycle of existence.  We are directed to Mount St. Michel in France, where we learn the mystical nature of tides, and how it effected early Christianity.  We go to China. To swollen waters. To study not only the beauty of nature, but its destructive element as well. We also learn in the end how we have been able to handle the tides,  and make it work for society’s growth, and development as they do in Venice. We garner an understanding of why humans revere, and yet fear, nature. It’s actually a simple message. A message now more urgent than ever before.

White welcomes into our homes, the ancient philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians as they lead the charge to the modern world’s understanding of the ocean. The author takes us back into the minds of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton. We are witnesses to his visit to London, and the honor of reading Newton’s original works. The beauty of protected masterpieces and the reverence for genius.

White vividly describes our forbearer’s thought patterns, their concepts, and their insatiable need to learn, explore, and reveal the truth of how the world works. We are given a short lesson in the history of fossil fuels, their nature, and their affect on the world. Still in the end, even to this day, we are brought to the realization that we understand so little about the world around us. We understand even less about the ocean, its inhabitants, and how it affects our own future. We are reminded that we are merely guests on planet Earth, and our duty is to hand it intact to future generations.

The author explains how the moon, that lunar orb, is so fundamental to tides, to the ocean and to our way of life. We gain an understanding of how ancient humans saw the moon and ocean conjoined in a dance of life. In fact, there is a sadness in this retelling of the historical facts around calendars, moons, sun, oceans and tides. A sadness that somehow along the way humanity has forgotten where it came from, and the fact that we too sprang from the primordial waters of the Earth.

Through the use of poetic prose Jonathan White explains to the reader the reality of our world, our oceans, the moon, the sun, the effects of tides, and humanities foolishness in the bargain. We are taught how we are dependent not just on the seen in this world, but on the unseen worlds found in nature that guide our existence, and help propel the future.

In this age of climate change denial, and those that would wish away the very evidence of humanity’s destructive nature, this book will help the reader understand just how vulnerable our ecosystem always was, and is at present. Tides does not fear monger. It merely explains a world that we do not see. A world upon which we depend. A world that is endangered by our own hubris.

Read this book. Learn. Understand. Explore.


About Elise "Ronan"

#JewishandProud ...
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