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September 1998
288 pages  

6 x 9
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Listening to the Sea
The Politics of Improving Environmental Protection
Wilder, Robert
Through a rigorous integration of policy and science, Robert Wilder suggests a much-improved second-generation governance of the oceans and coasts and proposes new ideas for resolving the environmental policy stalemate found within the U.S. government.

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Robert J. Wilder, J.D. and Ph.D., teaches in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and is a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been a Fulbright fellow; National Academy of Sciences Young Investigator in Biodiversity and Coastal Ecology; Sea Grant fellow; and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Listening to the Sea is that rarest of books: an insightful, meticulous, up-to-date examination of a crucial topic that is also very clearly written. Focusing on the pernicious mismatch between fragmented ways humans govern our activities in the sea, and the biological vulnerability of marine species and ecosystems, it calls persuasively for marine management based on biological realities, and points to new solutions that are ‘smarter, cheaper, and more effective.’ In the two decades since I began in marine conservation, I haven't seen a marine policy book so sane, so compelling.”—Elliott A. Norse, President, Marine Conservation Biology Institute

“In this important work, Dr. Wilder describes sensible new ways that prevention ought to inspire our actions, and helps to generate political will vitally needed to improve environmental protection.”—Senator Timothy Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation

“Timely and well done! Robert Wilder has once again made an important contribution to good coastal and ocean stewardship. An informative ‘must read.’”—Peter Douglas, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission

“That we name our planet Earth shows that we neither know, nor understand the three quarters of planetary surface covered by seas. This clear, timely book shows the need to apply precautionary action in our relationship with the sea.”—James Lovelock, author of Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, and Honorary Visiting Fellow, Oxford University

“This enjoyable, scholarly book is the best justification yet for taking the same precautionary approach towards marine environmental health, that we do for human health. It is now up to reductionist science and management, and reluctant politicians, to catch up to the solutions this book offers.”—G. Carleton Ray, University of Virginia

“This is holistic ecology and policy at its best.”—Pierce Flynn, Executive Director, Surfrider Foundation

“This book’s vision of improving U.S. transportation policy through energy efficiency, and clean new alternatives like the fuel cell, is an exciting and fresh approach that merits serious attention. It clearly shows how improving environmental protection requires integrative thinking.”—Honorable Rodney E. Slater, U.S. Secretary of Transportation

“The author’s many years of research, love, and respect for the sea and his keen desire to construct a more rational regime for ocean governenace are apparent throughout this book. Wilder contributes to the fields of legal scholarship andpolitical science by tracing the historical development of customary doctrines, landmark decisions, and major environmental legislation and treaties pertaining to oil and gas development, fisheries conservation, and jurisdiction over resources. . . . Wilder concludes with recommendations and principles that will constitute a framework for a more refined kind of ocean governance.”—Library Journal, September 1, 1998

Wilder’s “new book is the definitive guide to balancing ecology issues with the continued wise use of ocean resources. . . . Wilder says that by creating power without pollution through alternative energy sources like fuel cells, further contamination of the seas can be avoided. . . . Wilder’s new model for ocean preservation is a ‘holisitc and organiz view of nture’ that integrates public policy and science.”—Citizen, Pasadena, TX, April 22, 1999

“Wilder provides an interesting analysis that combines international law and U.S. public policy. Cross disciplinary approaches such as this are a welcome addition to the literature. I strongly recommend the book for policy professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, and serious general readers.”—James E. Heasley, II, Perspectives on Political Science

“Major topics include the history of ocean governance . . . offfshore oil and gas policies, failures, and needed improvements; energy and other resource efficiency, and pollution control and prevention; international law and precautionary measures; and obstacles and breakthrough possibilites to integrate science and decision-making policies for ocean resource protection and utilization. . . . This well-written, scholarly, and thought-provoking book provides a substantive background for understanding current problems of humankind’s relationship to the surrounding oceanic realm and for wise ocean policy into the future.”—Choice, April 1999

“The author brings both his legal and scientific background to bear, outlining the evolution of jurisdictions from European customs to the debate over the law of the sea. This history, often overlooked in fishery discussions, is important and Wilder provides a valuable service in supplying the background, as well as by reminding the reader that oceanic issues cannot be wholly separated from environmental concerns on land; much marine pollution, after all, is not generated at sea.”—The Washington Times, 1/10/99

Complete Description Reviews
Political Science/Environmental

Environmental politics and policy, while gaining a significant place in the nation’s consciousness, constantly comes up against the United States’ desire for more development, more profit, and a collective lack of foresight. Nowhere is this more evident than in the crucial biodiversity of the world’s oceans, which are victim to pollution, overharvesting, habitat destruction, and simplistic and fragmented environmental policies that do not speak to underlying problems. Robert Wilder describes how management of the world’s oceans and their ecosystems has long faced two principal obstacles. The first is the seemingly infinite capacity of human apathy - something that permits us to take the sea’s comfort, sustenance, ecological services, and integrity for granted. The second is the myriad lines for rigid offshore jurisdiction. That people believe the diversity of life on land should be protected is reflected in well-publicized efforts to save the celebrated biodiversity of rainforests. Far less is known, however, about protecting a larger two-thirds of this planet - the oceans. Drawing on academic literature and practical experience, Wilder illustrates the nature of the questions facing decision makers and provides intelligent, well-crafted solutions. By describing how the emerging idea of precautionary action can help build second-generation policy, Wilder offers means to halt problematic overfishing. He integrates political science with the goals of environmental protection, revealing why agencies often fail in their mission to preserve the environment, and offers fresh, sensible, new paths ahead. Wilder shows how damage to marine ecosystems often stems from distant land-based activities and details emerging ideas such as how industrial ecology can be a cost-effective way to preven pollution. Through a rigorous integration of policy and science, Wilder suggests a much-improved second-generation governance of the ocean and coasts and proposes new ideas for resolving the environmental policy stalemate found within the U.S. government.


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