I’ve got a new book in the works! I’m beyond thrilled that Riverhead Books and my wonderful editor Courtney Young have agreed to publish another book by me. This one is about a creature similarly spineless, and yet it builds the most remarkable skeleton on our planet, one so impressive it can be seen from space: the coral.
The story of coral is one that is both urgent and inspiring. The tropical reefs are the first major ecosystem that is existentially threatened by climate change. Corals live perilously close to their thermal limit, and the ocean is expected to continue to warm regardless of what we do to curb our carbon emissions.
And yet, what I discovered on the ground in coastal communities around the world is hope that, in some places, the coral will survive. It’s not only scientists and NGOs who are working to keep the reefs alive. It’s businesses stepping in with innovation and funding where the governments have failed to act. But in order for the reefs to exist in the future, it will also take scaling up the best of the ideas that out there. And that’s where the biggest question mark lies.
I helped build a new reef on a bombed out bed of coral rubble in Sulawesi and seen endangered species of coral spawn in the Dominican Republic. I saw corals that are refugees from a terrifying disease spreading throughout the Caribbean. I talked to scientists, aquarists, and business people who care deeply about corals and know what’s at risk for them in the future. When Covid hit, I hunkered down in Austin to write up all I discovered.
But just as with Spineless, my personal life invaded on the science. The struggle of coral intersected with a growing struggle in my own home: that of my daughter's fight for her mental health. As she worked to find tools to confront the challenges she faced, I saw echoes of the challenges for coral beneath the waves: ones that are largely invisible and have no easy answers. With hard work a kind of restoration is possible, but nothing is ever the same as it was before.
My book on coral is set to be released in the spring of 2022. I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned.