At the Ends of the Earth: A History of the Polar Regions

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Island Press, 2001 - 286 pages
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"The story of the Arctic and Antarctic is of two regions quite unlike any other.... It is a story of interweaving cycles in which exploration leads to exploitation, and exploitation to further exploration. It is a story of how even such remote realms can significantly affect, and in turn be deeply influenced by, events and trends thousands of miles distant -- of how the long shadow of humanity has extended, for better and for worse, to the very ends of the Earth." --from the PrologueFor thousands of years, the polar regions have been a source of intrigue and fascination; even today -- despite having been thoroughly mapped and explored, despite being home to permanent human settlements and scientific stations -- they remain places of mystery. Remote, cold, barren, and inhospitable, they nonetheless exert an undeniable hold on the human imagination.At the Ends of the Earth is an engrossing natural and human history of the two polar regions. In vivid and engaging prose, author Kieran Mulvaney presents the fascinating story of human interactions with the Arctic and Antarctic from prehistory through centuries of European exploration to more recent issues involving Cold War politics, oil and gas drilling, tourism, and global warming.Beginning with the earliest myths and legends of undiscovered lands far to the north and south, Mulvaney offers an in-depth look at these two regions that are so similar yet so distinct. His compelling narrative brings to life the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes as well as the people who have explored, lived in, and exploited them. Stories of native Arctic peoples and the changes brought by the arrival of Europeans are contrasted with equally striking stories of Antarctic exploration and high-stakes battles over whether that vast continent should be exploited or protected.Throughout, the author highlights both the direct and indirect impacts of human activity on polar landscapes, considering the ways in which these fragile and pristine environments represent a kind of miner's canary alerting us to the potentially irreparable changes we are wreaking on our global environment. At the Ends of the Earth offers a unique look at an intriguing facet of world history and provides an important context for understanding both successful and failed polar expeditions, as well as the motivations behind them.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - NielsenGW - LibraryThing

The bulk of history is told through the lens of important events. The narrative of that history focuses on the decisions and people that lead to those events. But what happens afterward? While modern ... Read full review

At the Ends of the Earth: A History Of The Polar Regions

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Mulvaney, who has published work in E and New Scientist, is a strong environmentalist and supporter of Greenpeace and marine mammal conservation. Tracing the history of the polar regions from ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
Poles Apart
9
Hunting ther Bowhead
27
Terra Incognita
63
So Remorseless a Havoc
89
The Last Wilderness
117
Crude Awakening
161
The Ends of the Earth
199
Epilogue
243
Notes
247
Selected Bibliography
261
Acknowledgments
269
Index
273
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Page 73 - You are also with the Consent of the Natives to take possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain; or, if you find the Country uninhabited take Possession for His Majesty by setting up Proper Marks and Inscriptions, as first discoverers and possessors.
Page 79 - The wild rocks raised their lofty summits till they were lost in the clouds, and the valleys lay covered with everlasting snow. Not a tree was to be seen, nor a shrub even big enough to make a toothpick.
Page 78 - I, who had ambition not only to go farther than any one had been before, but as far as it was possible for man to go, was not sorry, at meeting with this interruption, as it in some measure relieved us, at least shortened the dangers and hardships inseparable from the navigation of the southern polar regions.
Page 135 - Department that the discovery of lands unknown to civilization, even when coupled with a formal taking of possession, does not support a valid claim of sovereignty unless the discovery is followed by an actual settlement of the discovered country.
Page 73 - ... you are to proceed in search of it to the westward, between the latitude before mentioned and the latitude of 35, until you discover it or fall in with the Eastern side of the land discovered by Tasman and now called New Zealand.
Page 91 - It was, however, an obstruction of such a character as to leave no doubt upon my mind as to our future proceedings, for we might with equal chance of success try to sail through the cliffs of Dover, as penetrate such a mass.
Page 65 - Is any one so foolish," he asks, "as to believe that there are men whose feet are higher than their heads; — trees growing downwards ; rain, snow, and hail, falling upwards?
Page 78 - I believe, no man in my situation would have thought of. It was, indeed, my opinion, as well as the opinion of most on board, that this ice extended quite to the pole, or perhaps, joined...
Page 80 - The risque one runs in exploring a coast, in these unknown and icy seas, is so very great, that I can be bold enough to say that no man will ever venture farther than I have done ; and that the lands which may lie to the south will never be explored.

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