Earth’s Most Valuable Element

By Peter Neill

New Book, ‘The Once And Future Ocean,’

Emphasizes Importance Of Earth’s Most Valuable Element
Our planet’s most valuable element is the focus of the new book, “The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society,” authored by Peter Neill, director of the World Ocean Observatory (
Neil aspires to transform our relationship with the ocean and the interconnected cycles of water, essential for all aspects of human survival in the 21st century.
A successor to Rachael Carson’s “The Sea Around Us,” Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac” and Jonathan Schell’s “The Fate of the Earth,” “The Once and Future Ocean” is ambitious in scope yet grounded in specific ideas and solutions for preserving the health of the world ocean. The book explores the ocean’s impact on climate, fresh water, food, energy, health, security, sustainable development, community living and cultural traditions.
Beginning with an analysis of the most pertinent issues relating to the present condition of both land and sea, Neill provides a persuasive argument for why the ocean matters and how its sustainability and careful use can establish a new paradigm for value and social behavior around which to build a new post-industrial, post-consumption global community.
This fundamental shift is directed toward the creation of a new hydraulic society where water in all its cycles and conveyances will determine how we live – from our buildings and cities to the structures of governance by which we succeed in an increasingly populated world.
Neill calls for a new ocean ethic and offers examples of technologies and applications that already exist, but have been suppressed by complacency and political subversion financed by vested interests.
“ ‘The Once and Future Ocean’ offers a vision for a practical and possible future, based on a revolutionary paradigm shift that can be implemented through the political will of thousands of citizens of the ocean who understand the necessity for change, the logic of a new moral alternative and the reality of the consequences if we fail to act in time,” Neill says.
“The book relies heavily on the scientific community’s contribution to information about the world ocean and is written with a deep familiarity with ocean policy. It is presented as a personal realization and is not intended for a limited audience of experts, academics or policy-makers.”
Accessible, powerful, persuasive and lyrical, “The Once and Future Ocean” argues for invention and new solutions, for new answers to fundamental questions and for a new relationship built around the ocean as a source for new modes of living that are within our grasp if only we have the courage to take hold.
About Peter Neill
Peter Neill is founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory (W2O) (, a web-based place of exchange for information and education about the ocean. W2O aggregates global ocean organizations and resources, produces audio-visual materials and provides additional proactive products to aquariums, science centers, educational institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and individuals to build public awareness. Neill previously served 20 years (1985-2005) as President of the South Street Seaport Museum, New York, and has held other positions throughout his career. He is the author of several books, including his latest, “The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society.”

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