A Sea in Flames: the Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout


A-Sea-in-FlamesTomorrow is the anniversary of the oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Carl’s new book, A Sea in Flames: the Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout, documents and deconstructs the events.

The book has been called “a blistering account of the months-long, man-made disaster that tormented a region and mesmerized the nation.” His book examines the faulty thinking that caused the lethal explosion and the series of calamitous misjudgments that caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Traveling across the Gulf to make sense of an ever-changing story and its often nonsensical twists, Carl expertly zeroes in on BP’s misstatements, evasions, and denials. As time goes on, he reassesses his own reaction to the government’s crisis handling and reviews the consequences of the leak and what he considers to be the underlying problems brought that have been into focus by the disaster.

Based on extensive research and interviews with fishermen, coastal residents, biologists, and govern­ment officials, A Sea in Flames offers some surpris­ing answers as to whether the blowout was “Obama’s Katrina,” whether the Coast Guard was as inept in its response as BP was misleading, and whether this unintended release of oil was really the worst eco­logical disaster in America’s history.

Impassioned, moving, and even sharply funny, A Sea in Flames is ultimately an indictment of America’s main addiction. Carl writes: “In the end, this is a chronicle of a summer of pain—and hope. Hope that the full potential of this catas­trophe would not materialize, hope that the harm done would heal faster than feared, and hope that even if we didn’t suffer the absolute worst—we’d still learn the big lesson here. We may have gotten two out of three. That’s not good enough. Because: there’ll be a next time.”

For more information about the book and Carl’s work, visit:

Here are some of the advance reviews of A SEA IN FLAMES

“Safina offers an impassioned, on the ground chronicle of the 2010 Gulf oil blowout that surpassed Exxon-Valdez to rank as the worst in history. His account achieves a broad, reasoned perspective that frames events against the more insidious damage that farm and industrial runoff, canal-digging, levee-building, and rising sea level have wrought on the Gulf and its wetlands.”

—Publishers Weekly 

The blowout was awful, but look at the bigger picture, writes Safina in this illuminating, monitory study: “The real catastrophe is the oil we don’t spill…the oil we burn, the coal we burn, the gas we burn…And as the reefs dissolve and the ocean’s productivity declines, so will go the food security of hundreds of millions of people.””

—Kirkus Reviews

“Environmentalist Safina brings his signature compassion, marine expertise, and gorgeous writing to his candidly expressive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster a year after the explosion.”


“A seasoned environmental writer, Safina’s mixture of factual reporting and prose makes his account of the spill a gripping read.” 

A shattering account of the greed and recklessness that led to the 2010 BP oil catastrophe.”


photo credit: Jonathan Henderson

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