"The real work in the Arctic is just beginning," said Donald B. MacMillan yesterday in an interview with the CRIMSON. The noted Arctic explorer and scientist is appearing at Symphony Hall this afternoon to lecture on Labrador and Iceland.
"Modern scientists in the Arctic are better trained, and know exactly what they want. Besides having unlimited economic resources, the land north of the Arctic circle presents a tremendous area that has never been touched. Tidal observations by the late Dr. R. A. Harris of Washington have shown a vast land area between Alaska and the pole, none of which has ever been explored or exploited.
"Economically, the land north of the Arctic circle has been of vast importance for the last 200 years. Such commodities as furs, fish, whale oil, seal oil, eiderdown, and ivory have been exported for our use and profit. For example, the Hudson Bay Company, one of the oldest trading concerns in the world, has taken out millions of dollars in the fur trade. The cryolite mines in southern Greenland are the world's only source of that ore, which is used in the manufacture of aluminum. It is hard to estimate the value of the whale oil that has been secured since 1800. The monetary value of these exported resources far outweighs the expenditures of Arctic scientists for their work.
"The great value of the Arctic is in the field of science: in biology, zoology, geology, ichthyology, and anthropology. Work in this latter field has revealed the most northern people in the world to be living as men did at least 10,000 years ago. Although it is difficult to place a monetary price on the value of scientific discovery, the results of such expeditions of research will justify the expenditure of every cent invested in the northern country.
"In June we are going back in the Bowdoin to the Arctic for the sixteenth time, to make a study of the life history of the North American birds. In order to study the birds we must follow them.
"No longer is there value in dashes to the poles, since they have been discovered. There used to be every reason for such expeditions, but, with our present knowledge of the territory, they are futile. The public enthusiasm for such enterprises has waned. At present, there are no expeditions operating in the Arctic.
"I prefer the Arctic to the Antarctic. My field of work has been in that country, and there is more romance connected with it. For 300 years mentried to reach the pole, and since we are a northern race, all of our early expeditions were directed in that direction.
"The poles will never be habitable. While there is land at the South Pole, it is at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The North Pole is above an ocean that is two miles deep."