What we can learn about addressing planetary-scale problems from the infamous Oregon “exploding whale”

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Exploding Whale Memorial Park (City of Florence). Source: City of Florence

On November 9th 1970, a 45 foot long dead sperm whale washed up on the Oregon coast, and found its way into modern American mythology.

Looking back, it’s easy to see the story of Oregon’s “exploding whale” as an amusing anecdote of naively heroic failure. It was certainly one that found a welcome home in the national psyche, and even inspired an episode of The Simpsons!

Yet beyond the blundering attempts to solve what rapidly became an increasingly pungent challenge fifty years ago, it’s also a cautionary tale about the perils of human hubris as we strive to build a better future. …


Andrew Maynard

Author of Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow, and Associate Dean in the ASU College of Global Futures

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