Re: Public vs. Private Arctic Exploration

Date: Fri Jun 09 2000 - 10:25:55 MDT

Robin forwards:
> "From 1818 to 1905," writes Karpoff, "35 government and 57
> privately-funded expeditions sought to locate and navigate a
> Northwest Passage, discover the North Pole, and make other
> significant discoveries in arctic regions. Most arctic discoveries
> were made by private expeditions. Most tragedies were publicly
> funded. By other measures as well [ship losses, crew deaths, scurvy],
> publicly-funded expeditions performed poorly."

It's surprising that private expeditions were so much better even when
dealing with what was largely an altruistic and non-commercial activity.
Finding the North Pole and much other arctic research does not have
commercial value. Maybe finding a Northwest Passage would, but even
then the information would probably not have been kept proprietary.

I would think that a non-commercial, altruistic expedition mounted by the
private sector would have many of the same problems as one financed by
the government. Since they don't have a commercial stake in the outcome
but are just backing the project for PR or perhaps pure science reasons,
they wouldn't necessarily be any more careful than the government.

Maybe I am wrong and the private expeditions in question did have
more of a commercial element?


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