Mark Kurlansky on His Most Important Environmental Writing Yet
In Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast
On this episode, Mark Kurlansky talks with Mitchell about his latest book, Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate and the impact of climate change on food supplies and sea life. Kurlansky is currently social distancing with his family in New York City.
From the episode:
Mark Kurlansky: It’s estimated that only about a million and a half Atlantic salmon left. You think about the sockeye run every year in Bristol Bay, Alaska, is about 60 million, and there’s only a million and a half Atlantic. Atlantic are in serious trouble. For the most part, they’re no longer commercially fished, but they’re still diminishing. I’ve talked to people all over the Atlantic, in Norway and Scotland and Ireland and everywhere in Maine. They say the same thing that: the fish go out to sea and not as many make it back.
What’s going on is climate change. What’s going on is that that carbon dioxide loves water. So about a third of the carbon dioxide that’s produced at land ends up in the ocean, and the hydrogen level of the water, which reduces the ability to grow things, so zooplankton and small fish that cod and salmon depend on are no longer there. They’re not getting enough to eat because these fish are smaller. The zooplankton isn’t nourishing. So what is happening is that the ocean is losing its carrying capacity.The ocean is losing its ability to feed the animals that live in it. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever learned.
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of Havana, Cod, Salt, Paper, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster, among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appetit‘s Food Writer of the Year Award, the James Beard Award, and the Glenfiddich Award. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The International Herald Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, Partisan Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Audubon Magazine, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Parade. He lives in New York City.