cover image Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Elizabeth Rush. Milkweed, $26 (202p) ISBN 978-1-57131-367-6

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. Rush, who teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University, masterfully presents firsthand accounts of these changes, acknowledging her own privileged position in comparison to most of her interviewees and the heavy responsibility involved in relaying their experiences to an audience. These include the story of Alvin Turner, who has lived in his Pensacola home for more than five decades, survived numerous hurricanes, does not carry flood insurance, and lives “alone on the edge of a neighborhood threatened from all sides.” Alvin’s story is not unlike that of Chris Brunet, a native of the shrinking Isle de Jean Charles in a Louisiana bayou, who must decide whether to stay on the disappearing island or leave. While showing that today’s climate refugees are overwhelmingly those already marginalized, Rush smartly reminds readers that even the affluent will eventually be affected by rising sea levels, writing that water doesn’t distinguish “between a millionaire and the person who repairs the millionaire’s yacht.” Rush also presents a legible overview of scientific understandings of climate change and the options for combating it. 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. (June)