We have a special relationship with the sea. It is the single most powerful driver of our economy, our lifestyle and our politics. It affects what we eat, how we use the land, how we relate to our neighbours, how we travel, even the thickness of our coats. Yet we go on treating it, with childlike faith and unreason, as if we imagine it to be infinitely resourceful and endlessly forgiving. Sea Change addresses such issues as pollution by sewage, nuclear waste and dumping at sea; extinction of fish stocks; destruction of marine environment, impacts of climate change, coastal erosion and rising sea levels; decline of our seaside resorts; the failure of the 'integrated transport policy';and smuggling. In each case Girling questions: how did the situation arise? What are the consequences? What should be done? And what will happen when we fail? His unique voice blends horror, humour and 'just fancy that'; sifting for solutions in the sands, he is utterly compelling, entertaining and inspirational.
Girling (Rubbish!) plunges with occasional squeamishness and a boatful of biting wit into the sorry state of Britain's seas and shores. Beginning with a short history and mythology of human/sea relations, he homes in on local matters, from the decline of once famous seaside resorts like Brighton, Blackpool and the Isle of Wight to sewage pollution in the English Channel. Readers will relish these tales of failing fisheries and stubborn, salty fishermen and will be interested, if depressed, to discover the unsustainable way Scottish salmon are farmed factory-style by Norwegian megacorporations, as well as the all-too-familiar sluggish responses of the British government. Graphic descriptions of infestations of "Russian doll" parasites and sea lice enliven the occasionally dense narrative. Girling's fascination with and intricate coverage of the minutiae of British politics from efforts to save seaside towns from falling into the sea to connecting ports with the public system of roads and rails is as local as a smalltown newspaper, however, and is likely to cause eyes on this side of the Atlantic to glaze over.