Remington Kellogg may have been the single most influential person in the history of efforts to regulate whaling, and he is therefore an excellent example of how one person can—and sometimes cannot—shape environmental diplomacy. In 1930, after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California for his work on whale fossils, Kellogg worked at the Smithsonian Institution as a curator of mammals. As such, he was the closest thing that the Department of State could find to an in-house expert to send to the League of Nations meeting on a whaling convention. For the next thirty-five years, Kellogg served the cause of international conservation as an adviser to the Department of State, a delegate to the IWC meetings, and chair of the commission. The State Department took no step on whaling matters without consulting him, although it did not always follow his advice.
Most importantly, Kellogg urged the Department of State to use the opportunity provided by World War II to grab control of whaling diplomacy from Norway and the United Kingdom. He feared, rightly, that the British and Norwegians would be more concerned with harvesting whales in the aftermath of the war than with conserving them. Only American leadership, he concluded, could give science its proper place relative to the whalers, who seemed to have too much say in London and Oslo. Kellogg, then, was one of the most active advocates of a strong IWC and, indeed, one of the people most disappointed by its failures. His last meeting of the commission came in 1964 at Sandefjord, home to the Norwegian whaling fleet. At that meeting, the whaling countries fended off powerful scientific arguments that whaling needed to be curtailed before the industry destroyed itself, and Kellogg came home embittered by the experience. It was not the happy ending for which some might wish, but it is emblematic of the difficulties of pushing conservation through diplomacy.