Whale in a Glass Bowl

Maria Katajavuori

Original title: Valas lasimaljassa

Author: Maria Katajavuori

Published: 2022

Publisher: Atena/Otava

Genre: General Nonfiction

Pages: 262

Reading material:

English sample and synopsis

Join the journey of a whale and a woman and uncover the keys to sustainability – the Earth can be saved with tools of human behavioral biology. Humans are like a whale in a glass bowl, trapped despite our big brains.

Humans are the most intelligent of animals. We know the effects of environmental degradation, but when we have to make a living or go on a vacation, our environmental awareness is suddenly forgotten.

The intriguing book reveals the paradoxes of environmental crisis and uncovers biological and cultural patterns that lead to overconsumption. Humans are like a beluga whale in a glass bowl, trapped despite our big brains. The whale’s story does, however, offer solutions as well. In addition to information, we need incentives that appeal to our natural selfishness and reward sustainable choices. By reshaping our glass bowl, the structures of our society, we can swim to freedom, away from the destructive whirlpool.

This uncompromising statement on the state and future of nature makes even the most environmentally conscious reader admit responsibility for overconsumption. Willpower, intelligence, and all the research in the world are not enough if they do not lead to political decisions and actions in an organized democracy. Information, emotion, and respectable literary activism.

– Finlandia Prize nomination motivation

Download reading materials

Rights sold:
FINLAND: Atena/Otava (orig.)

About author

Maria Katajavuori

Maria Katajavuori is a researcher with one leg in ecology and another in human behavioral studies, writing science by day and popular science by night. She draws together biological and social sciences to understand the nature of our species, producing tools for a more ecological future.

With experience on science, activism and policy making, Katajavuori fills her books with colorful scenes and personal anecdotes, ranging from Siberian tundra to forests of Canada and from grassroot activism to international congresses. Currently, Katajavuori is located at Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in the mountain-valley town of Lillehammer, developing projects on human behavior and working with science-policy interactions of the European Union.

Katajavuori’s first book, A Matter of Death and Life, received the State Award for Public Information of Finland in 2018, and her second book, The Whale in a Glass Bowl, was a Finlandia-Prize nominee in 2022. In science, Katajavuori publishes under PhD title and her birth name, Katariina E. M. Vuorinen.


2022, General Nonfiction

Maria Katajavuori

Whale in a Glass Bowl