Whales and Nations: Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas

Whales and Nations: Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas

by Kurkpatrick Dorsey
     
 

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Before commercial whaling was outlawed in the 1980s, diplomats, scientists, bureaucrats, environmentalists, and sometimes even whalers themselves had attempted to create an international regulatory framework that would allow for a sustainable whaling industry. In Whales and Nations, Kurkpatrick Dorsey tells the story of the international negotiation,

Overview

Before commercial whaling was outlawed in the 1980s, diplomats, scientists, bureaucrats, environmentalists, and sometimes even whalers themselves had attempted to create an international regulatory framework that would allow for a sustainable whaling industry. In Whales and Nations, Kurkpatrick Dorsey tells the story of the international negotiation, scientific research, and industrial development behind these efforts —and their ultimate failure.

Whales and Nations begins in the early twentieth century, when new technology revived the fading whaling industry and made whale hunting possible on an unprecedented scale. By the 1920s, declining whale populations prompted efforts to develop "rational"—what today would be called sustainable—whaling practices. But even though almost everyone involved with commercial whaling knew that the industry was on an unsustainable path, Dorsey argues, powerful economic, political, and scientific forces made failure nearly inevitable.

Based on a deep engagement with diplomatic history, Whales and Nations provides a unique perspective on the challenges facing international conservation projects. This history has profound implications for today’s pressing questions of global environmental cooperation and sustainability.

University of Washington Press

Editorial Reviews

International Journal of Maritime History - Bjorn Basberg
This interesting and well researched [book]…sheds new light on how the International Whaling Commission developed, and on how it struggled.

Environmental History - Karen Oslund
I am delighted that a book like Whales and Nations exists and that Kurkpatrick Dorsey has written it. He offers us a detailed history of the regulation of whaling from the pre–World War I era up to the present…he is certainly one of the best writers of diplomatic history around.

Choice
Written with elegant prose and a wry wit, the book illuminates the many twists and turns of global whaling regulation... This title is an excellent resource for those desiring detailed insight.

Journal of American History - Carmel Finley
Dorsey negotiates a daunting set of complex political, scientific, social, and cultural relationships with enough detail to sustain his points yet still have the narrative move along without too many distractions.... Sets a new standard for environmental historians by looking at the diplomatic interactions that tried—and failed—to conserve whale populations.

Journal of Historical Geography - Chie Sakakibara
Dorsey’s prose is careful and meticulous, and facilitates a nuanced understanding of whaling politics... effectively narrat[ing] the history and background of whale diplomacy in a way that should appeal to environmental historians, environmental policy researchers, diplomacy scholars, students, and even active diplomats and policymakers who are concerned with the health of the ocean and global environmental problems.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780295993119
Publisher:
University of Washington Press
Publication date:
11/18/2013
Series:
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Helen M. Rozwadowski
Whales and Nations offers a fresh and timely look at the intersection of the twentieth—century whaling industry, international diplomacy, and science and is an important contribution to a topic that loomed very large in the environmental movement at a critical point in its development. It’s also a great read.

William Cronon
The international politics of whaling underwent seismic shifts over the course of the twentieth century, reflecting complex changes in attitudes toward marine mammals and environmental protection worldwide. This important story has never been better told than in Kurkpatrick Dorsey's new book, which is likely to be the standard work on this subject for a long time to come.

Jacob Darwin Hamblin
This important book is essential for understanding the formation of the first global environmental agreements. It is valuable both as an argument about the failures of sustainability and as an authoritative guide to the people and issues behind the rise of global environmental awareness in the twentieth century.

Meet the Author

Kurkpatrick Dorsey is associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire.

University of Washington Press

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