Thursday, July 16, 2020

Non-fiction Review: The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina

It happens occasionally that after finishing a book I’m left speechless how to write a review, let alone an introduction. About halfway through Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean (2019), I had the thought: this a book future generations will read how life on the seas was as at the turn of the 21st century the same way I read Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle or Captain Cook’s journals, and the manner in which it documented life on the seas in their eras.

While that may seem a pile of hyperbole, it’s important to consider context. Technology has made life complex in myriad ways, including the way in which humanity plies and interacts in and on the seas. More than the winds and stars, we have satellites, massive, powerful engines, and a global trade network that dwarfs those of yesteryear. That being said, a romanticized view of the seas remains partially in the society’s mind’s eye. Land dwellers have little to zero knowledge of how humanity exists on the seas in the 21st century.

The word ‘greenpeace’ has general meaning in society, but in The Outlaw Ocean readers can understand for certain that that means in 2020, particularly the spectrum of splinter groups Greenpeace spawned, more aggressive to more diplomatic. Shanghai’d of pressganging are also words in use in the language

But despite the advances in time and technology, some things have apparently remained the same over the centuries. The UN may be recognized by many governments as a global governing body, but the seas, while generally in the remit, are not the top of the priority or budget list. This means that while progress has been made in terms of getting criminal and environmental laws in place to protect the world’s oceans, enforcing those laws remains a massive gray area. With country jurisdiction extending only 12 miles from shore, what lies beyond has only the . Given the seas cover 70% of the Earth, you get the picture why Urbina decided to their The seas remain relatively lawless. With the complexity technology has brought to life

As stated, I’m speechless.

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