The long tern future of the Gulf Stream is now under threat; the Arctic ice is melting and the fear among oceanographers is that the cold water will not sink in the Norwegian Sea, thus switching off this transatlantic heat conveyer. Northern Europe would then freeze, and this apparent paradox - that global warming could bring about a new european ice age - seems to have caught the popular imagination. Orsenna explores the Gulf Stream, its past and its future, both in celebration and in lament of its possible demise.
Erik Orsenna is a Goncourt Prize winning novelist, sailor, economist, jurist, presidential advisor (to Mitterrand), member of the council d'Etat and one of the 40 "immortals" of the Academie Francaise where he holds the seat formerly held by Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
'The French author Erik Orsenna 'collects currents' in the way that other people collect butterflies or stamps. He has been in love with them since his childhood in Brehat, an island off the Brittany coast. His book is a personal and somewhat idiosyncratic investigation into the science and myths of currents, in particular the one that gives the United Kingdom and northern Europe a far warmer climate than usual for this latitude - the Gulf Stream. As well as talking to scientists and discussing past attempts to explain these hidden oceanic pathways, he travels to Norway, searching in vain for the mythical whirlpool the Maelstroem. At one point, Orsenna admits 'I am not a scientist, I am a wanderer', and it is clear that the true subject of this book, and the source of his fascination, goes well beyond the merely nautical. At the end he mentions feng shui and Australia's songlines as examples of land-based currents, but one senses that he could have said much more about the way currents resonate throughout literature and our wider culture.' - PD Smith, The Guardian 2010-09-25