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.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
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.”
“Rising is a smart, lyrical testament to change and uncertainty. Elizabeth Rush listens to both the vulnerability and resiliency of communities facing the shifting shorelines of extreme weather. These are the stories we need to hear in order to survive and live more consciously with a sharp-edged determination to face our future with empathy and resolve. Rising illustrates how climate change is a relentless truth and how real people in real places know it by name, storm by flood by fire.”
“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.”
“Rising is not just a book about rising sea levels and the lost habitats and homes—it’s also a moving rumination on the rise of women as investigative reporters, the rise of tangible solutions, the rise of human endeavor and flexibility. It is also a rising of unheard voices; one of the eloquent beauties of this book is the inclusion of various stories, Studs Terkel-style, of those affected most by our changing shoreline. A beautiful and tender account of what’s happening—and what’s in store.”
“A strange new kind of travel guide, Rising is a journey through the turbulent forefront of climate change—the coastal communities, rich and poor, human and nonhuman, that are already feeling the first effects of our rising seas. Elizabeth Rush sets out to put a face on a subject that is all too often depicted in abstract graphs and statistics, and gives us a group portrait of the men and women who are fighting, fleeing, and adapting to the terrible disappearance of the land they live on.”
“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.”
“Focusing on the shorelines of our nation, Elizabeth Rush takes us from north to south and east to west on an intimate journey that vividly tells the story of the effects of our rising sea level and its impact on animal and plant life. In Rising, Rush has written a personal, passionate plea for us to take action before it is too late and to rethink our priorities to the benefit of our environment. This is environmental writing at its best.”
“This is the sort of clear-eyed writing about climate change that we need more of!”